How to Dry Elderberries and Store for Long-Term Storage

Dehydrating fresh elderberry fruit is quite easy. Here are easy tips on how to dry elderberries and the best method for storing them for long-term storage.

how to dry elderberries

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Living a homesteading life has allowed me the opportunity to learn skills I never owned. Skills which would allow us to ensure that our immune system, gut, and overall health are at its strongest.

We know that good health begins with a clean nutrient dense diet. We also know that exercise keeps the heart pumping and your body moving. But what about steps to ensure a strong immune system during cold and flu season?

Because of the lifestyle which I’ve chose to live it is necessary to take ownership of my family’s health. This covers creating a preventative plan consisting of a holistic regiment, which so happens to include fresh elderberry fruit.

Of all the natural items I offer my family, elderberry syrup is one which is easily consumed, and without argument. The game changer for the kids occurred when I began making elderberry gummies.

Look, you have taken the time to harvest fresh elderberries, now take the time to learn how to properly dry elderberries, and how to store them long-term. This will ensure the harvest is available throughout the season without going bad.

Building an Apothecary

A holistic apothecary will take years to build, but build it you must. Cold and flu season have gotten progressively worse with each passing year, and the best way to address this is to maintain a strong immune system.

For this very reason the following natural, or holistic, items are readily available on our homestead between September through April each and every year.

Fermented foods and beverages are consumed daily to ensure that our gut flora is running at its prime. 80% of the body’s immune system runs through the gut, hence, making it necessary to keep the gut pack full of beneficial bacteria.

Proving elderberry syrup at the onset of a cold or flu like symptoms daily reduces the length of said illness. In addition to minimizing the length of time of an ailment, it is often taken as an immune boosting preventative plan.

Fire cider and colloidal silver can be consumed daily as a preventative regiment, or at the onset of any unhealthy symptoms. Keep in mind, a holistic regiment is not instant relief. Be patient and allow herbs to do their work.

Fresh Elderberry Fruit

There are many types of elderberry fruit which is available for making elderberry syrup. The most popular being, black elderberry, Sambucus nigra L. The second is blue elderberry, Sambucus cerulea.

Based on location, elderberry is know to have various names. However, there are 7 common varieties to look for:

  • Adams
  • Black Beauty
  • Black Lace
  • Johns’
  • Nova
  • Variegated
  • York

Black elderberry grows naturally east of the Rocky Mountains and thrives in both wet and dry locations. However, in order for the berries to ripe the bush requires a good amount of sunlight.

Unlike black elderberry, the blue variety is not as commonly found. This elderberry fruit grows west of the rocky mountains and thrives best along the coast of Washington, Oregon, California, and around the northern parts of Idaho.

Search for blue elderberry in moist, cooler climates along rivers, creeks, lakes, and ponds. This particular variety likes its roots wet.

The berries of the blue species (Sambucus cerulea) start off dark, however, as it ripens a white powder forms on the berries. This is the indication that the berries are ripe and ready to be consumed.

elderberry fruit

Preserving Methods aside from Dehydrating Elderberries

There are many methods available for preserving elderberries. However, how to dry elderberries is one of the best techniques available. Drying elderberries allows for a multitude of options when you are ready to utilize them.

Other methods include:

Utilizing Fresh Elderberry

Elderberry is commonly used to make an immune boosting syrup, however, there are many other methods available:

In addition to utilizing the berries, elderberry flowers are also consumed. The flowers are used to make tea, wine, jelly, syrups and even pie.

My Book

For additional tip, trick, and recipes on how to preserve foods grab a copy of my book, The Farm Girl's Guide to Preserving the Harvest. Whether you are a novice or seasoned home food preserver my book has something for everyone. Learn how to can, ferment, dry, cure, freeze, and store raw the harvest as a sustainable homesteader would.

Copies of The Farm Girl's Guide to Preserving the Harvest can be purchased online at the following sites, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Walmart, Books a Million, and on my website

How to Dry Elderberries

There are many methods to drying elderberries, select the one which best works for you.

Sun Drying Elderberry Fruit

The traditional method of sun drying works well for preserving elderberries. Sunnier locations with low humidity are excellent for sun drying elderberries.

How long it takes to sun dry elderberries will depend on the temperature and amount of sunlight available. Plan for the process to take 3 to 4 days to complete, making sure to select consecutive days in which the weather will be nice for 4 to 5 days.

  1. Wash and dry elderberries, remove the berries from the stems.
  2. Place clean elderberries onto a drying screen, making sure they are not stacked on top of each other but in a single layer.
  3. The elderberry are dried once they are firm to the touch. Completely dried elderberries will store well long-term.
dehydrating elderberries

Oven Drying Fresh Elderberry Fruit

Oven drying is not the most efficient method to use but ideal for those who do not own a dehydrator. The completion time for oven drying elderberries is roughly 12 hours, which means the oven will be out of commission during this time frame.

  1. Wash and dry elderberries, remove the berries from the stems.
  2. Place the fresh elderberries onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Next, set the temperature to the lowest setting. Do not exceed 170 degrees Fahrenheit, this will cook the fresh elderberry fruit.
  4. Every few hours rotate the baking sheet to allow for even drying. Using a spatula turn the elderberries.
  5. The elderberry are dried once they are firm to the touch. Completely dried elderberries will store well long-term.

Freeze Drying Elderberry Fruit

A home freeze dryer is an incredible appliance to own. This tool allows herbs, fruit, and vegetables to maintain 97% of its nutrients. Meaning, flowers, plants, roots, and berries used for medicinal purposes maintain their true strength for up to 10 years.

Once the fresh elderberries have completed the freeze drying process they will take on a brittle texture. Simply add the correct amount of elderberries to the water and prepare as normal.

  1. Wash and dry elderberries, remove the berries from the stems.
  2. Place the elderberries onto the freeze dryer’s stainless steel trays.
  3. Begin the freezing and drying cycle.
  4. Once thoroughly dried package the elderberries in the appropriate containers for storage.
how to dry elderberries

Dehydrating Elderberries

Removing the berries from the stem will expedite the drying process. However, when working with large batches the berries can be left on the stem.

Ingredients

  • freshly harvested elderberries

Equipment

  • mason jars with metal lid and rings
  • dehydrator, a rear mounted fan allows items to dry efficiently
  • jar funnel
  • oxygen absorber
  • jar sealer

Instructions

  1. Wash fresh elderberry fruit well. Trim off the thicker stem, leaving the berries in a cluster on the thinner stems. Or remove the berries from the stems.
  2. Line the elderberries in a single row onto the drying trays.
  3. Set the temperature of the dehydrator to 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Next, set the timer for 12 hours, add additional time if needed.
  5. The elderberry are dried once they are firm to the touch. Completely dried elderberries will store well long-term.
  6. See instruction below on how to store dehydrated elderberries.

How to Store Elderberries

Properly storing dried elderberries ensures that they will keep long-term. Improper storage dried berries will result in moisture entering the jars, causing potential mold issues.

For long-term storage it is best to vacuum seal the jars. This ensures moisture cannot enter the jars.

A vacuum sealer with a jar sealing attachment is ideal for preserving items which are stored in jars. This methods works for sun drying, oven drying, freeze drying, and dehydrating elderberries.

  • Place dehydrated berries into the appropriate size mason jar.
  • Add an oxygen absorber to the jar, place the metal lid and ring onto the jars. Make sure to tighten the ring as tight as you can get it.
  • Using a jar sealer and vacuum seal the jars.
  • Store jars in a cool, dark location for up to 1 year.

Printable Recipe Card – Dehydrating Elderberries

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How to Dry and Store Fresh Elderberries

Dehydrating fresh elderberry fruit is quite easy. Here are easy tips on how to dry elderberries and the best method for storing them for long-term storage.
Prep Time20 mins
Dehydrating Elderberries14 hrs
Course: Natural Well Being
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to dry elderberries, how to store elderberries
Servings: 1 Quart
Cost: $0

Equipment

  • mason jars with metal lid and rings
  • dehydrator, a rear mounted fan allows items to dry efficiently
  • Jar Funnel
  • Oxygen Absorber
  • jar sealer

Ingredients

  • freshly harvested elderberries

Instructions

  • Wash fresh elderberry fruit well. Trim off the thicker stem, leaving the berries in a cluster on the thinner stems. Or remove the berries from the stems.
  • Line the elderberries in a single row onto the drying trays.
  • Set the temperature of the dehydrator to 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Next, set the timer for 14 hours.
  • Once completely dried the elderberries will be firm to the touch.
  • See instruction below on how to store dehydrated elderberries.

Storing Dehydrated Elderberries

  • Place berries into the appropriate size mason jar.
  • Add an oxygen absorber to the jar, place the metal lid and ring to the jars. Make sure to tighten the ring as tight as you can get it.
  • Using a jar sealer, vacuum seal jars.
  • Store jars in a cool, dark location for up to 1 year.

The ability to grow or forage for elderberries is a blessing. Make sure to preserve the harvest properly to enjoy the elderberry fruit for the following year. By learning how to dry elderberries and properly store them will do just that.

how to dry elderberries
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