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Elderberries Are Only Safe to Eat After Cooking

Making It Grow Radio Minute
SC Public Radio

Species of elderberries grow in Australia, Europe, Japan, and in many parts of North and South America. Sambucus canadensis, with deep purple black fruit, is the one most widespread in the US. All parts of the plants have compounds that are toxic to humans (not native wildlife). Fortunately, heat destroys the dangerous chemicals the seeds in the ripe fruit contain so you can make delicious wine or pies with them. When I was studying at Clemson, my favorite professor, David Bradshaw, told us how to pick a young, entire flower head, dip it in pancake batter and cook it up as a delicious fritter. Although the fruits are most commonly used, the flowers with an incredibly delicate floral essence, are the flavoring agent in the high-end cordial, St. Germain, which when mixed with prosecco makes a refreshing aperitif.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.