Berries are a delicious and nutrient-packed component of most plant-based diets. Although the customary strawberries and blueberries are what traditionally characterize this group, there are others you may be forgetting. One of these is elderberry. With a swath of helpful qualities which can be used to address a variety of ailments, consider giving this powerful fruit a try.
What is Elderberry?
As an emerging gem of the health realm, elderberry has actually been used in ancient practices as means of alternative medicine. This flowering plant also referred to as Sambucus, has a wide range of uses and features a rich black-blue pigment. Flavor-wise, elderberry is much more tart than other berries you’re used to. Because of this, it’s best to cook them for added sweetness and combination with complementary flavors.
You can find elderberry at specialty markets as well as online. If you’re specifically looking for fresh ones, it can be ideal to source them from a local grower. Elderberry extract is also available more readily if you prefer to get yours that way.
Benefits and Uses
Most popularly, elderberry is known for its use against the cold and flu. In fact, medical journals have studied its effectiveness and continue to uncover the promising powers that elderberry offers. Specifically, this fruit has been hailed for its effects against the influenza virus as well as sinus infections. Much of this power comes from Antivirin inside elderberry, which helps to prevent virus cells from replicating. With illness prevention being many individuals’ top priority, elderberry can guard against or shorten the duration of sickness if symptoms occur.
The flavonoids inside elderberry, especially anthocyanins, allow it to act as a powerful antioxidant. These attributes also mean it’s great for skin health, which is made even more effective by the vitamin A inside. Speaking of vitamin A, this also means elderberry is useful for healthy eyes and vision.
Elderberries also happen to house vitamin B, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, and carotenoids as well. With its ability to encourage digestive wellness, elderberry also boosts health because immunity is largely based in the gut. You can take advantage of the fact that these provide about ⅓ of your daily fiber needs.
Additionally, you can count on elderberries to help fight inflammation. This is done by combating oxidative stress and thus keeping the body balanced.
How to Prepare
For optimal safety, it’s not recommended to eat elderberries raw like you would with other similar fruits. However, you can easily prep them for consumption by simmering in boiling water for about 15 minutes and draining off the excess. At this point, you can choose whether you prefer a smooth or chunkier texture based on what you’re cooking.
Elderberry is a popular component of various teas, drinks, and elixirs. It’s also perfect to add to your pancakes or waffles for that classic berry tartness. You can toss them into these Bananaberry Pancakes to provide some added color and nutrients. Another great way to work with elderberry is by adding it to your ice cream. Consider stirring it into a fitting recipe like this Raw Blueberry Vanilla Ice Cream for the perfect flavor complement.
Most berries are wonderful components of pies and crumbles, and elderberry is no exception. It pairs beautifully with recipes like this Apple and Blackberry Crumble to provide some added dimension.
The Simple Way to Make Your Own Fruit Jam
Lastly, we can’t forget about the classic jam transformation. If you want to be able to reap the benefits of elderberry whenever you like, a spreadable jam is a great way to go. Follow your favorite jam recipe the same way and you should get a perfect result. Try using elderberries with this guide for making your own fruit jam!
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