Elderberries, scientifically known as Sambucus, a genus belonging to the Adoxaceae family of flowering plants, aren’t as popular as many of the most famous berries (like strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries).
That said, they are equally tasty, albeit a bit rarer. For the most part, you won’t elderberry flavored jams, yogurts, and other goodies at the local grocery store. This means you need to make sure yours are ripe before you use them for making your favorite pies, cookies, or wine!
It is important to note that some elderberries may be toxic and should be cooked before being used as an ingredient in any food or drink.
Do Elderberries Ripen After Being Picked?
Unlike some berries, elderberries do not continue to ripen naturally after being picked. That said, never attempted to eat green elderberries. In fact, it is best to avoid eating ripe elderberries before cooking them.
How Do You Ripen Elderberries?
The best way to ripen elderberries is to let them ripen naturally (on the tree!). Once you pick them, they will not continue to darken and become purple or black. Unripe elderberries will remain unripe.
How to Tell if Elderberries are Ripe?
Elderberries are easy to tell when they are ripe. Simply have a glance-over of the tree. If there are several clusters that have blackish or purple-colored groups of berries, it is time to have a closer look. Upon closer inspection, wait until the majority of the tree’s berry clusters have turned from green to full blackish-purple before harvesting.
When is the Best Time to Pick Elderberries?
The best time to pick ripe elderberries is dependant on your climate zone and local weather (as well as the species you are growing). Most commonly, elderberries are reaching full maturity in the late summer or fall. If you don’t have trees of your own, you’ll need to go foraging.