I have just tried elderberries for the first time, and it may be my last. Some other people have a different view.
It’s the smell. We picked elderberries on Thursday morning and I started to process them in the evening. I wanted to make a jam and proceeded as I usually do for soft fruit, heating the berries in a pan for 10 minutes from boiling point and passing them through a sieve to remove the seeds. I would have then added sugar, some lemon juice and I would have cooked the jam . But it never got to that stage. The smell of the simmered berries was unpleasant, and we still have the juice, of a beautiful dark purple colour. I just don’t know what to do with it, I have no inspiration whatsoever as to adding something that would make the jam good. Sorry elderberries fans!
Maybe they were too ripe, as we picked them quite late in the season. Also, I added the bottom of the bucket to the berries I had separated from the stalks, where some had already fallen, without separating the good ones from some that were probably already gone. But I don’t think this is the reason. I just didn’t like the smell, and taste once partially cooked, of these elderberries. Maybe I should try elderberry wine.
Having said that, some people like them and propose elderberry recipes. I also take this opportunity to include a link to Eat Weeds – ‘The wild food guide to the edible plants of Britain’ and its elderberry cordial recipe. We picked our elderberries in a private garden, but they probably can be found in all London Commons, as it is very common to see an elder tree around here. You may find me around them in June to pick their flowers, as I love elderflower cordial, but probably not in the autumn to pick the berries again!