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3 Ways to Eat More Elderberries (and Why You Should)

By Elizabeth Brownfield
October 5, 2021
Photo credit: The Little Shop of Olive Oils

For thousands of years, people have been using elderberries to combat a laundry list of ailments: the common cold, the flu, fine lines, weight gain, cardiac issues, inflammation… our ancestors believed that elderberries were a cure-all. In 400 BCE, Hippocrates — regarded as the father of modern medicine — even called the elder tree his “medicine chest” because of how many diverse medical issues he thought these beautiful berries could alleviate.

And it turns out our forebears were onto something. One recent study indicates that elderberry supplements can indeed reduce the severity of symptoms of a common cold, and another shows that it can help reduce the duration of the flu.

Elderberries are the fruit of the Sambucus elder tree, which can be found in about 30 varieties across the globe. These tart, antioxidant-packed berries are nutritional powerhouses — not only are they an excellent source of vitamins A and B6, but most impressively, one 100-calorie cup of the fruit boasts 10 grams of dietary fiber and 52 milligrams of immune-boosting Vitamin C (that’s 87 percent of the daily recommended intake in a snack-sized portion).

A word of warning, though: for all of this fruit’s amazing medicinal and nutritional benefits, the raw berries or juice can be toxic. So if you’re looking to work more of it into your meals, it’s best to either cook the berries beforehand or source them in products made by pros who know what they’re doing.

1. Shire City Herbals Elderberry Tonic

Shire City Herbals Elderberry Tonic

Photo Credit: Shire City Herbals

Get all the antioxidant benefits of elderberries in Shire City’s versatile tonic. Made with a base of raw, organic apple cider vinegar, this elderberry tonic also includes warm, healthful spices like ginger, cinnamon, clove, and tulsi. After the mixture is given a few weeks for the flavors to meld and the vinegar to extract the berries’ beneficial antioxidant compounds, it’s combined with raw, organic honey to balance out the tartness of the fruit.

Like all products from Shire City — a small, family-owned business from the heart of the Berkshires — this tonic is sustainably sourced and USDA-certified organic. Take a shot anytime you’re feeling in need of an energy boost, mix it with water or tea, or add it to sauces, marinades, or soups.

(Shire City Herbals Elderberry Tonic; $20 for 16 ounces)

2. Food to Live Organic Dried Elderberries

Food to Live Dried Elderberries

Photo Credit: Food to Live

Another way to add more elderberries into your diet is to buy them dried. Keep a bag in your pantry and you’ll always be ready to use them. Blend them into a healthy smoothie, shake them into a bag of homemade trail mix, or bake them into scones. Or for a sweet treat for anyone trying to get off the soda train, you can cook these into a homemade syrup that will perk up your seltzer — without adding a ton of extra sugar.

(Food to Live Organic Dried Elderberries; from $11 for 8 ounces)

3. The Little Shop of Olive Oils Elderberry Dark Balsamic Vinegar

Elderberry Balsamic Vinegar

Photo Credit: The Little Shop of Olive Oils

Aged in traditional wood barrels, this elderberry-infused dark balsamic vinegar brings extra brightness (and antioxidants!) to salad dressings, and combined with a little olive oil, makes a fantastic dip for a warm, crusty bread. It’s also ideal for a little drizzle on a fruit-and-cheese platter. The Little Shop of Olive Oils is a small, family-run, Massachusetts-based company that naturally infuses their balsamic vinegars, all of which are free of caramel colors, added sugars, and thickeners.

(The Little Shop of Olive Oils Elderberry Dark Balsamic Vinegar; $15 for 6.76 ounce)

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