It not only tastes good, elderberry also helps with colds, coughs and urinary tract infections and is rich in vitamin C. Everything about the healthy effects of elderberry, what to watch out for when consuming it and which poisonous plants there is a risk of confusion.
Elderberry grows on roadsides, in the garden and in the forest. It belongs to the edible wild plants, the flowers and berries are especially popular. In addition to its typical aroma, which can be used to refine drinks and food, elderberry has been used as a medicinal plant for centuries. Elderberry is so healthy.
At a glance:
Commodity and season
The black elder (Sambucus nigra), also popularly known as the lilac bush or elder, is a native shrub plant. Mainly flowers and fruits are used. The flowering time is from May to the end of June, the fruits are harvested from August to the end of September. The purple-black fruits are usually referred to as elderberries, but botanically they belong to the stone fruits.
In addition to the black elder, the rarer red elder can also be used in the kitchen. There is mainly a risk of confusion with a close relative: The dwarf elder, also called Attich, is a domestic ornamental plant, all parts of the plant are considered poisonous.
Is Elderberry Poisonous? Which parts of the plant are edible
While elderberry has some health benefits and is often used in the kitchen, there are a few things to watch out for when consuming it, because elderberry can also be poisonous. First of all, not all parts of the plant are edible and even the fruits are slightly poisonous if consumed raw. Therefore:
- Always cook the elderberries through.
- The fruits must be harvested when they are ripe.
- Carefully remove fruit stalks.
- The flowers can also be eaten raw, but green parts of the plant such as stems and leaves must be removed.
- The red elder is more poisonous than the black elder, you can recognize it by the bright red berries. The poison is particularly concentrated in the seeds, which is why the fruit must be pitted before consumption.
The poison contained in elderberry is called sambunigrin, it leads to symptoms such as nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. Although the concentration is low in ripe elderberries, there is a risk of poisoning, especially for children.
Medicinal plant: how healthy is elderberry?
Elderberry is rich in vitamins, especially the fruits contain a lot of vitamin C – over 18 milligrams per 100 grams. The flowers also contain vitamins A and B. In addition, elderberries contain important minerals such as iron and zinc as well as secondary plant substances, which have a positive effect on health.
Dark dye as cell protection
The purple-red color of the fruit protects cells from oxidative stress. The contained sambucyanin belongs to the group of anthocyanins, which bind free radicals in the body. Elderberry prevents inflammation, cardiovascular diseases such as arteriosclerosis and even cancer.
Elderberry for coughs and colds
Elderberry juice is rich in vitamin C and zinc and thus strengthens the immune system. It is best to drink the tart juice hot, it can be easily sweetened. In addition, elderberry works well against coughs and loosens mucus. Elderberry has a sweaty and therefore cooling effect, so tea made from dried elderflower can relieve symptoms of feverish colds and is a tried and tested home remedy. For dry coughs and sore throats, elderflower syrup soothes the mucous membranes.
Studies also suggest that elderberry extract is effective against flu and can be taken both preventively and as a supportive treatment. It contains antibacterial and antiviral substances.
For urinary tract infections: elderberry against cystitis
Elderberry juice and elderflower tea are said to have a slightly dehydrating effect, which is why elderberry is considered a home remedy for cystitis. However, its effectiveness has not been well documented, so far only studies have been carried out on rats where the diuretic effect occurred. Despite the lack of scientific evidence, tea and juice can be used to support a urinary tract infection. It is important to drink enough fluids to flush out germs, the vitamin C it contains can also strengthen the immune system.
For stress and sleep problems: elderberry calms the nerves
Elderberry scent helps against stress, for example as a bath additive: For a relaxing bath, pour three tea bags of elderberry tea with one liter of hot water and let it steep. Add the brew to the bath water. A glass of elderberry juice half an hour before going to bed is also recommended for stress and sleep problems: elderberry can help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Elderberry syrup is high in sugar
Even if elderflower syrup still contains some healthy ingredients, the negative aspects predominate, because syrup consists largely of sugar. Elderflower syrup is a delicious ingredient in desserts and cocktails, but it is high in calories and is harmful to health in large quantities. If you want to benefit from the healthy effects of elderberry, you should use other methods of preparation.
Elderberry: recipes and uses of flowers and fruits
The flowers can be used as tea when dried. You can often buy it in pharmacies as well. To make elderflower tea, add about two to three teaspoons of the dried flowers to 300 milliliters of water and let them steep for five to six minutes, covered. The cover prevents the evaporation of essential oils, which are responsible for the health effect. The flowers of the native shrub are particularly tasty, also fried in batter.
The popular elderberry syrup is also made from the flowers. It is tasty and aromatic and very popular in summer.
Recipe: make elderflower syrup yourself
Ingredients for two liters of syrup:
- 20 to 25 elderflower umbels
- 2 kg of sugar
- 2 lemons (untreated)
- 1 orange (untreated)
- Lemon balm
- 2 L of water
This is how the elderflower syrup is madet:
Carefully clean the elderflower in standing water. Remove small beetles and rotten flowers as well as green parts of the plant such as the flower stalk.
Put elderflower in a large container. Wash lemons and oranges with hot water, cut into large slices and add to the elderberry with a few lemon balm leaves.
Bring the water to the boil and add sugar. Let it boil down while stirring. Pour the syrup over the flowers.
Cover and leave to stand in the refrigerator for three days so that the flavors can completely dissolve in the sugar water.
Put through a tea towel or sieve in a saucepan so that all solid residues are filtered out.
Bring the syrup to the boil and fill into bottles using a funnel. Close hot immediately.
To make the elderflower syrup durable, the bottles can be reheated in the oven. To do this, fill a fire-proof dish halfway with water and place the bottles in it. The bottled elderberry syrup is then sterilized in its container for 30 minutes at 80 to 90 degrees.
When stored in a cool and dark place, elderflower syrup can be kept for up to a year.
Recipe: elderberry jelly
- 700 g elderberries (black elderberry)
- 500 g preserving sugar
- Juice and grated zest of a lemon
This is how the jelly is made:
Wash the elderberries thoroughly and pluck the small stalks. Sort out unripe and rotten fruits.
Put the berries in a saucepan and press lightly so that the juice comes out.
Add the vanilla, lemon juice and zest.
Let simmer for half an hour.
Sieve the boiled juice and berries through a sieve or tea towel into a new saucepan so that solid components are filtered out.
Add the preserving sugar and bring to the boil again.
Put in sterile jars and close while still hot.
Source: Lifeline | Das Gesundheitsportal by www.lifeline.de.
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