Like other berries, elderberries are rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health properties and have been traditionally used for food and medicine. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, you should cook elderberries before eating or juicing them. Raw berries and other parts of this plant may contain some types of toxins.
Prepare the elderberries for juicing by thoroughly washing them in warm water. Remove any stems and leaves and discard them. Place the jars and lids in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes to sanitize them.
Place the elderberries into a separate pot and add just enough water to cover the fruit. Heat the berries over medium-high heat, stirring often. Let the water come to a boil to cook the berries and then reduce the heat to a simmer for 10 minutes. This also helps to soften the skin of the berries to release the juice and breaks down some of the fruit pulp to make a thicker juice.
Remove the pot of elderberries from the burner and let the water cool until it is safe to handle. Use a spoon or a potato masher to crush the elderberries allowing their juice and pulp to mix with the remaining water. You can also use a food processor to puree them.
Place a fine metal strainer over an empty pot. Pour the crushed elderberry puree into the strainer. Use a broad, flat spoon to press the fruit and help release as much juice as possible. The strainer helps catch the skin of the fruit and any larger pieces of pulp.
Pour the elderberry juice into the sanitized glass jars. You can store the juice in the fridge or use it immediately. Drink the elderberry juice as is or dilute it with water or other fruit juices if desired.
- Use a blender or food processor to puree the cooked elderberries, or juice the cooked berries with a juicer.
- Use a fine cheese cloth instead of a strainer to separate the skin from the juice of the berries.
- Do not consume the leaves or stems of the elderberries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that fresh leaves, flowers, bark, roots and young buds of the elder tree can be toxic if you consume them.
- Young children should not eat elderberry fruit or drink elderberry juice.
Nadia Haris is a registered radiation therapist who has been writing about nutrition for more than six years. She is completing her Master of Science in nutrition with a focus on the dietary needs of oncology patients.