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Having made lots of elderflower cordial from the bumper crop of elderflowers in the hedgerows near my home in June, I can now see that we are also in for a bumper crop of elderberries.

How can tell when they are ready to pick? When I was small, my family made jam with them. Any other ideas?

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I think it's important to note, when discussing elderberries, that the seeds (as well as the leaves and twigs) can cause cyanide poisoning. So it's important to separate out the seeds before eating them, which is usually done by juicing them and using the juice to make syrup or jelly. Seedless jam would be an option if you can separate the pulp from the seeds, but I'm not sure how easy that is. –  Theodore Murdock Aug 9 '12 at 14:17
    
I make seedless blackberry jelly every year. I use a juice machine to separate the pulp and juice from the seeds. I first cook the fruit until the seeds begin to separate then process the warm fruit through my juice machine. Try that to separate the seeds from the elderberries. Jenni –  user19027 Jul 2 '13 at 14:58
    
I was going to make elderberry syrup till you told me it can kill me –  user20515 Sep 30 '13 at 20:20
    
@john Theodore didn't say properly handled elderberries can kill you, just that the seeds (and other parts of the plant) can be poisonous. If you actually separate things out and just cook the actual fruit, sounds like you'll be fine. –  Jefromi Sep 30 '13 at 20:27

2 Answers 2

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From Greenfootsteps' "Elderberry Recipes for a Healthy Winter Edinburgh":

Pick elderberries when they are fully ripe in early autumn. The bunches should be starting to droop downwards with the weight of the fruit. Use a fork or your fingers to gently prise the fruit away from the stalks. This can be a bit fiddly but you don't have to be too perfect with it - a few bits of stalk will not matter.

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Early September in the UK at least

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