OPEN! and easy Elderberry Syrup recipe

We’ll be OPEN tomorrow, Wed Aug 17th

but CLOSED this Saturday Aug 20th while Edie and I attend the New England Women’s Herbal Conference in NH.

We have Kale, collards, rainbow chard, tomatoes, basil,
carrots, zucchini, olive oil, olives, flowers…

NEW: We have mesclun mix, plain arugula and baby broccoli raab for salads, cut to order. We will have some Silver Queen CORN for sale as well.

We ate our first cooked corn for dinner, and it was so good I ran out and took photos in the near-dark. I’ve never seen baby ears sprouting out of the bottom of the big ears! They must like chicken manure compost…

And I want to share our rice paddy for those of you who haven’t seen it

Did you know we can grow rice in the Northeast?
This is Hayayuki, and below is Duborskian (upclose)

Much more feathery. Very beautiful rice seed from
Christian Elwell of South River Miso in Conway, MA.

This paddy has been one of our favorite projects this year. More on this later, maybe a slideshow of seed to harvest, we’ll see…

So, on to Elderberry Syrup.

The birds LOVE Elderberries. So do we. The berries have antiviral properties and if a syrup is taken at the first sign of a cold, you can usually send it off…Unless you choose to load up on sugar and wheat and other “sugary” foods, which will weaken your body making it harder to fight off infections… but that’s too heavy a topic. Today I made Elderberry syrup with Lucy, a super-sweet, hardworking volunteer on our farm. This is what we did. But first, identifying them:

They hang in clusters, these reddish-purplish-black berries, with wine-colored stems. They are just beginning to ripen in our area. They love to grow on the sides of streams, or where they can keep their feet wet, but where there is a little sunlight poking through. Get a good book to identify them if you are going out to pick, or better yet, bring a friend who knows Elderberry.

The Elderberries that grow in the Northeast are ripe when they are black, not maroon or red. I have heard the raw and unripe berries are toxic, as are the seeds, leaves and stems. But not the plump black berries. Our family has eaten plenty of raw berries with no problems, just FYI.

Pick Elderberries by cutting off at the stem above the cluster of berries. I like to ask permission first and thank the plant for her medicine. Put them into a basket and bring them home. We also picked the last few blueberries and the first blackberries to add to our brew. We then pulled the berries gently off the stems into a pot with a little water in it (so they don’t burn on the stove). We added our other berries and simmered them all for about 10 minutes. I’m sure there are other ways and this can be flexible, there are zillions of recipes and techniques, this is just what I do.

Then we strained it all out thru a jelly bag, making a delicious, red mess in my beautiful Joy bowl…

For Lucy’s I felt like I should add a few tablespoons of honey (per 8oz jar) to preserve it, and for taste, so we did. Hers will keep in the fridge for a few weeks. Technically and officially you would add equal amounts of sweetener to syrup (then it would last 2-3 months in the fridge). Personally I find this offensive (I am a recovering MAJOR sugar addict) so for ours I didn’t add anything and just left 1/2″ spacing at the top of each half-pint and stuck them in the freezer, labeled, once they cooled. I love the taste of the fruit, and it’s hard sometimes to get that flavor with so much “sweet”.

Some years I have added organic apple cider vinegar or brandy to help it keep longer, first cooking it down on low heat to thicken and concentrate, getting sweeter naturally. I remember this lasting a few weeks in the fridge. But the last few days I have had cooked up blueberries to pour generously on my pancakes and I love just the plain fruit, so am hoping this will be as good out of the freezer as it is fresh! It’s easy in the middle of winter if you are coming down with something to defrost a jar.

There are many other variations, including fresh ginger in with the simmering fruit, or more blueberries, or a little echinacea root ~ have fun!


  1. Hi there–how did the rice turn out? I’m going to be trying to grow some this year (Duborskian) and would love any tips you have! I’m in Eastern MA. Have a lovely spring.

    1. The rice did great – we got 25 lbs and are enjoying it tremendously!! This year we’ll do a larger patch, maybe double in size. We learned that if we had added more compost we could have gotten closer to 40 lbs. I was off on my timing this year and started it too early, not even just because of the weather, so it’s already in a nursery paddy in the greenhouse and we’re trying to slow it’s growth down by not covering it every night (with blankets and insulation). Always a learning experience… Thanks for writing – let me know how it turns out! Happy Spring!

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