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Safely Eating Elderberry

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Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Elderberries grow in Australia Europe, Japan, parts of south America and in North America into the far east coast reaches of Canada and across the entire United States. The species with black fruits, Sambucus canadensis are the ones we find in our part of the country, which is fortunate, as the blue berries are toxic. Actually, all parts of the plants contain toxic compounds but when heated the ripe black berries make delicious wine or a pie. When I was a student at Clemson, my major. professor, David Bradshaw, told us how to pick a young, entire flower head, dip it in pancake batter and fry it up as a delicious fritter. Although the fruits are commonly used to make elderberry wine, 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. 

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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.