Elder is an absolute classic in the kitchen for summer. Whether it is made into a syrup, roasted, or cooked into a marmalade, one or the other of these delicacies can almost always be found in an Austrian home. The long tradition of the food is also reflected in the varied methods of preparation.
Elder is a plant that can grow up to seven meters high and has many names, such as Elder, Elderflower or Elderberry.
The plant previously played an important role in folk medicine an important role. It was considered a noble tree and many magical properties were attributed to it. Growthing an elder tree close to the house, was said to keep snakes and accidents away. Chopping down an elder tree could lead to illness, misfortune and suffering.
The elder tree blooms from May to June. Its flowers are a creamy white to yellowish color, and grow in clusters. They smell sweet and aromatic. The flowers do not rely on pollination by insects, but is self-pollinating.
The fruit has berry-like drupes, which have a diameter of five to seven millimeters and a deep red to black-violet color. The berries are harvested in September and October. The berries contain many vitamins and minerals. After the harvest, they must be processed quickly because they do not last long raw. It is also important to know that the berries should not be eaten raw. In their raw state they are slightly toxic and can cause nausea and indigestion. Through heating, these toxins are neutralized.
Elderberry can be further processed into jams, compotes, roasted snacks, juices, soups, sauces, jellies and liqueurs. It also tastes excellent in combination with plums, blackberries, apples, pears, cinnamon, cloves and lemon.