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When we discuss whether or not to grow something here at Mucky Boots Farm, there are three main considerations.
1 - Is it healthy for people to eat?
2 - Is it a native plant for this area or otherwise proven to grow well here.
3 - Do we like growing it. ;)
It's pretty clear that elderberries and garlic, as part of an overall healthy diet, are good for us.
We make no claims that elderberries or garlic prevent or cure disease.
Our Elderberry Handout
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Or read it below
American Elderberries are a wonder of nature, a true superfood with 3 times the antioxidant level of blueberries,1 and a greater variety of antioxidants than European Elderberries.2
Ohio Elderberry Farm Syrup is made from American Elderberries. We grow elderberries on our farm in Adams County (1hr east of Cinci).
Berries are frozen the same day they are harvested to lock in the nutrients. Then we simmer them, strain out the pulp and stir in local honey. Voila!
What do I do with it?
- Take a small shot or sip daily
- Mix a tablespoon into your favorite fizzy water to make an elderberry soda
- Stir into yogurt
- Blend into a smoothie
- Top a scoop of vanilla ice cream
- Mix with vodka - shaken or stirred
- Combine with vinegar or hot sauce to glaze roasted meat
- Add a spoonful to your Earl Grey, Chamomile or other favorite tea
- Dribble on cheesecake
- It’s a little thin to put on pancakes, but it’s been done!
Is it good for me?
Elderberry has long been used as an herbal medicine, and is widely used as such by many today. However, elderberry as a medicine has not been subjected to thorough and rigorous scientific study. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) state “Some preliminary research suggests that elderberry may relieve symptoms of flu or other upper respiratory infections”.3
Why do we grow and use American Elderberry ourselves?
- High in antioxidants
- Scientific studies supporting effectiveness against cold symptoms
- Great flavor
- Important plant for pollinators
- Personal experience of my own use and health
- Anecdotal evidence from other people that it has helped them stay well
- Beautiful color
- Long used in traditional/herbal medicine
- Native to Ohio
- I can grow it myself! (and so can you - ask me how!)
How does it grow?
These native shrubs grow on roadsides, on the edges of woods, fields and streams. You have undoubtedly seen elderberry bushes. It’s easiest to find them when their huge umbrals of white flowers bloom in July. Berries emerge in late July/early August and are harder to spot (plus the birds love them). The scientific name for the variety that is native to Ohio is Sambucus nigra subspecies canadensis.
We grow cultivated varieties that have been selected over the generations for bigger berries, clusters that ripen all at the same time, disease-resistance, etc. Right now our favorites are Nova, Adams and York. We’re waiting to see how Wyldewood, Bob Gordon and Ranch do for us. As of Fall 2021, we have about 500 bushes growing - each of which should produce 5-7 pounds of fruit once they are mature.
Elderberry was used as food and medicine among early Native American nations and European settlers. In fact, elderberry seeds have been found in human copralites (fossilized feces) dating back 5000 yrs.4 Now many people use elderberries for juice, wine, tea, jam, pie, and pemmican. And don’t forget that Harry and Meghan chose a lemon elderflower cake for their wedding cake!5
Elderberries provide food and habitat for birds and serve as host plants for insects, including our country’s Largest Moth, Hyalophora Cecropia Linnaeus. It also provides erosion control on slopes, and turns carbon dioxide into the oxygen that animals, like us, breathe.
It’s a good-for-you, good-for-the-earth native plant that may have medicinal benefits.
What’s not to love!?
Order online at shop.muckybootsfarm.com or find us at a local market.
1. Haytowitz, etal. USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods. Release 3.3. March 2018..
2. Sidor, etal. Advanced research on the antioxidant and health benefit of elderberry (Sambucus nigra) in food – a review. Journal of Functional Foods Volume 18, Part B, October 2015, Pages 941-958.
4. Kavasch, E.”Ethnobotany of Elderberry” in Herb Society of America’s Essential Guide to Elderberry Ed: Brobst, J. 2013. p14.
5. Gonzales, E. What is Elderflower? Everything to Know About Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s Wedding Cake Flavor, Harper’s Bazaar, 3/20/2018.
Studies about Elderberries
Cold and flu symptoms?
Study: Black elderberry supplementation effectively treats upper respiratory symptoms.
"This analysis included a total of 180 participants and evaluates moderators such as vaccination status and cause of the upper respiratory symptoms. Supplementation with elderberry was found to substantially reduce upper respiratory symptoms."
Study: The effects of Sambucus nigra berry on acute respiratory viral infections.
"Collectively the evidence obtained from across five clinical studies involving 936 adults indicate that mono-herbal preparations of Sambucus nigra L. berry (S.nigra), when taken within 48 hours of the onset of acute respiratory viral infection, may reduce the duration and severity of common cold and influenza symptoms in adults."
Study: Elderberry extract outpatient influenza treatment for emergency room patients
"We found no evidence that elderberry benefits the duration or severity of influenza."
"Black elderberry decreased influenza duration by 4 days in three previous peer-reviewed trials."
Study: Effects of sambucus ebulus extract on ... breast cancer
"The findings indicated that S. ebulus extract remarkably decreased cell proliferation and viability. The extract had no toxicity to the normal breast cells but efficiently killed the cancer cells."
Study: Elderberry for prevention and treatment of of viral respiratory illness
"Elderberry may be a safe option for treating viral respiratory illness, and there is no evidence that it overstimulates the immune system. However, the evidence on both benefits and harms is uncertain and information from recent and ongoing studies is necessary to make firm conclusions."
Study: Garlic constituents for cancer prevention and therapy
"Garlic extract, its phytocompounds and their nanoformulations have been shown to inhibit the different stages of cancer, including initiation, promotion, and progression."
Study: Antiviral potential of garlic
"This review highlights that garlic possesses significant antiviral activity and can be used prophylactically in the prevention of viral infections."
Download our Winter Native Plant Guide!
This 7 page guide explains what you need to know to source and plant 5 native plants that
- support wildlife like bees, butterflies and turtles
- beautify your yard
- offer something extra for humans (like food and drink!)
Fall and winter are prime time to sow many native plants so don't wait. Let's get planting!
Nature needs us all.