Jul 6, 2023
Elderberries are one of nature’s gifts that has many nutrients to support your health goals. But to have your own, you must live in Europe and Northern Africa or grow a tree in your backyard. The next best thing is to get freeze-dried elderberries
Fresh elderberries are rich in nutrients such as:
They have health benefits that help promote a strong immune system and boost heart health. A lab study found that elderberry extracts were able to lower fasting blood sugar in rats. The same study also showed lower insulin levels in rats after taking the extract.
When you have freeze-dried elderberries, you’ll get the same nutrient benefits. You can take out a pack from your pantry whenever you need it.
The crunchy texture and the tart, tangy flavor also make them a great addition to your granola, cereal, and yogurt.
Freeze dried elderberries are also easier to process into a fine powder. This makes it easier to make shakes, tea, and power smoothies.
There are several varieties of elderberries, but two are most known.
This shrub or elderberry tree is native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia. It’s identified by its large, flat-topped clusters of tiny cream-colored or white flowers. The tree has dark purple to black elderberries. The berries from this tree have cyanogenic glycosides that cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. That’s why you need to cook these berries to remove the toxins. They’re better suited to make extracts with or concentrates.
Commonly known as American Elder, common elderberry, or American elderberry. It’s native to North America with a similar appearance to its Nigra counterpart. The only difference is these elderberries are sweeter in flavor and contain less cyanogenic glycosides. This makes them easier on the stomach, so you can eat them raw in moderation.
Whether you make or buy freeze-dried elderberries, know the variety you’ll get. This way, you’ll know how to use the berries properly for maximum benefit and minimum discomfort.
It would be best to process the elderberries as soon as you harvest them. Your window can only be a few hours. The longer they sit, the more they ferment and release toxins. If you can’t process the berries yet, put them in the freezer while they’re still attached to the branches. Doing so keeps the berries intact and prevents them from releasing or producing toxins.
To prepare the elderberries for freeze-drying, here’s what you need to do.
Run the berries under running water. You can do this either while the berries are attached to the stem or not.
Pick a place where you’re free to make a mess. The berries have a deep color that can stain your precious carpet and tiles, so be careful. They can stain your clothes and hands, too, so do this weeks before a special event.
You can do the traditional way of easily removing the elderberries from the stem by hand. To do this, suspend the branches over a bowl and gently pinch and twist or pull the berries.
You can use a fork to pick the berries to minimize the stain and mess. Slide a stem of the berries through the prongs and push down. This makes the picking faster and more efficient.
Be careful not to include twigs, which can interfere with the process. The toxins are also concentrated on the twigs, stems, and leaves, so be careful not to have them in your bunch.
Fill the bowl of elderberries with water to overflow. Use your hands to carefully shake the berries as the water overflows. This helps loosen dirt and insects stuck to the berries and separate the bad berries. Discard everything that floats to the surface, then dump the water. Put the berries in a fine-mesh colander and rewash them under running water.
Drain and let the berries dry on paper or kitchen towels. Be mindful of the stain they can cause on the counter surface and floors.
Pre-freezing is necessary for elderberries, especially if your freeze dryer’s loaded. Do this regardless of the variety of berries you got. Most especially if you got the berries from the tree you can’t identify.
If you decide to pre-freeze, make sure to use cold trays and pre-cool the chamber to -8°F (-22 °C) or lower. This will prevent the berries from thawing and releasing toxins.
Elderberries have the same appearance as blueberries and cranberries, only smaller. With their delicate size, piercing them one by one would take most of your time. Pulsing the berries will also render them into a pulp.
But because of their small size, they are easier to freeze dry even with the skins on. The freeze dryer can efficiently penetrate the berries and remove moisture.
Your Harvest Right freeze dryer can freeze dry the elderberries with just a few push of a button.
Freeze drying can take 24-38 hours or more, depending on how much food your freeze drying. There are also several factors like the temperature of the room where the freeze dryer’s installed and your vacuum pump.
After freeze-drying, remember to store them in airtight containers. Use 1-2 of the 300cc packets of oxygen absorbers to help prevent oxidation that can ruin the berries. Also, make sure to store them in a dry, dark place with a stable temperature not going higher than 72°F (22 °C).
There are several places where you can buy freeze-dried elderberries online.
River Hills Harvest has freeze-dried American elders in 0.85oz, 3oz, and 8oz bags. These are available for sale at $8.99-$74.99, which is relatively expensive.
Nuts.com sell all-natural elderberries in 2oz and 2lb containers costing $9.99 and $94.99, respectively. These are cheaper compared to River Hills Harvest, which offer theirs 3oz bag for $27.50.
Powbab freeze-dried organic elderberries sourced from Chile. The difference is the product is in powdered form. But the good thing about this is that you can use the powder to make elderberry syrup without problems.
The flavor’s excellent, with one buyer saying it’s similar to chocolate. The powder mixes well and has a smooth texture.
Elderberries are good to add to your food storage supply. Whether you make your own or buy freeze-dried elderberries, the nutrients you’ll get will help support your health goals. Just make sure you know where the elderberries came from. This way, you’ll know whether you need to cook them or use them as is for your meals and drinks.
Do you plan to freeze dry elderberries or purchase them to save you trouble? Let us know in the comment section.
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