From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...If you don't hear from me tomorrow, we'll all know that uncooked elderberries are poisonous. I've only recently become interested in the berries which grow on the shoulder along the road the Silver Fox and I use for our morning walk. We've watched the shrub progress from flower to fruit, and, after doing a bit of research and talking with our local extension agent, I decided to harvest some of the berries for limited kitchen testing. Elderberries are tart members of the honeysuckle family. There are three varieties that grow in North America, two are blue and one is red. Their color is important. The red berries are poisonous if eaten raw. Fortunately, I'd been sampling the blue variety and lived to tell the tale. Interestingly, the berries, which are smaller than blueberries or raspberries, don't attract birds. They are bitter, almost astringent, and don't develop real flavor until they are processed. They are mostly used in jams and jellies, but they can add complexity and tannins to wine. They also mix well with other fruits and are used to add color and tart-sweet flavor to compatible fruit desserts. The elderberry is small in the extreme, and separating the berries from their stems is no easy task, but it can be made easier by freezing them prior to stem removal. I decided to pair the berries I'd picked with blueberries and made a pie and muffins that were OK, but nothing to raise the flag about. I had better luck with the sauce which I want to share with you tonight. While I used it as a sauce for pork cutlets, it would be wonderful with any assertive protein. I think those of you who try the sauce will really enjoy it. The trick, of course, will be finding elderberries you need to make it. The recipe falls into the stupid-simple category, so no elaboration is necessary. If you are intrigued, pucker up and follow the instructions below. Here is how the sauce is made.
Elderberry Sauce...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Amy Crowell via GRIT
1-1/2 cups elderberries, stems removed
1/4 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Tiny pinch cinnamon
Tiny pinch cayenne
Tiny pinch salt
1) Bring elderberries, onion, and vinegar to a boil in a saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer for 10–15 minutes.
2) Remove from heat and strain infused elderberry juice through a jelly bag or a few layers of cheesecloth to yield about 1/2 cup of juice.
3) Put juice back into a clean saucepan and add remaining ingredients. Bring sauce to a boil and then simmer the sauce for 10–20 minutes on low heat, stirring constantly, until desired consistency.
4) Store in a covered jar in the refrigerator. Yield: 3/4 cup sauce.
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