Sweet’s Elderberry

We’re so happy to welcome Tracy Miller of Sweets Elderberry, whose wellness products we’re featuring this week! She gives us the goods on all the benefits of 2022’s fave superfood.

All about elderberries

Elderberries are found just about everywhere… North and South America, Asia, Europe, Australia, Northern Africa, and Tasmania.  The ones you’ll most likely encounter are American and European elder.

American elder (Sambucus canadensis) grows wild in fields, meadows, roadside ditches, and railway beds.  It’s shrublike, very hardy, and reaches 10-12 feet in height and width.

European elder (Sambucus nigra) is significantly taller, reaching 20 feet in height and width.  It blooms earlier and yields more fruit per plant than the American elder.  (And yes, this would be the tree that yielded the Harry Potter elder wand.  Definite bonus point for this variety.)

Elder enjoys sun or part shade. The trunk is short, with soft, smooth gray-brown bark, covered with corky bumps and furrows resembling stretch marks.  Old bark may look scaly. The twigs are hairless and yellowish-green with scattered pores called lenticels.  If you snap a twig open, the inside is soft and white.

Sweet’s Founder & President Stephanie Rickenbaker samples Austrian elderberries with a Sweet’s organic farm partner

Elderberry leaves are long, dark green, and serrated on the ends, like sawteeth. They branch off the twig in pairs, exactly opposite from each other.

Elderflowers appear in the spring. They grow in a beautiful, huge, umbrella-like cluster called an “umbel” made of many yellowish-white flowers with five flattened petals each. They smell faintly sweet.

About a month later, the flowers drop off and elderberries appear.  Berries are purplish-black, about 1/8” in diameter, growing in droopy umbrella-shaped clusters. They give off a musky odor. (Remember the Frenchman’s insult in Monty Python and The Holy Grail: “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!” )

Safety point: Elderberries should not be eaten raw.  If they’re under-ripe, they’re toxic, and even the ripe ones can give a tummy ache.  Elderflowers can be used in salads and cooking, but just use the blossoms themselves.  All other parts of the shrub – bark, twigs, leaves, tiny green stems – should never be eaten.

Ancient antioxidant

Elderberries are wonderful additions to pies, jellies, homemade wine, and more – but most commonly, they’re used to create natural medicine.

Hippocrates, the Greek Father of Medicine, called elderberry his “medicine chest” for its variety of uses.  This tiny fruit is an absolute powerhouse of nutrition.

Dark fruits, especially berries, are rich in anthocyanins.  These are a type of flavonoid – a class of antioxidant compounds offer anti-inflammatory and antiviral benefits along with antioxidants.  These substances protect your cells against free radicals, which play a role in heart disease, cancer, and other conditions.

How to get the most out of your Sweet’s Elderberry products

Elderberry can be used daily for general wellness support, then in higher and more frequent doses during colds, flu and sinus infections, as well as seasonal allergy suffering, to reduce discomfort and shorten illness duration.

Sweet’s Elderberry handcrafts delicious, highly potent supplements from organic elderberries.  These are available through The Produce Box:  

Sweet’s Syrup, in 8 oz and 16 oz sizes, combines the immune-boosting benefits of elderberry with seasonally-rotated Carolina honey for maximum cough and allergy support, and organic cinnamon, clove and ginger.  Take daily for wellness support and every 3 waking hours during illness or allergy symptoms.  Offers 1500 mg of elderberry per Tbsp.  Requires refrigeration.

Sweet’s Elderberry Shrub is an organic infusion of elderberry, apple cider vinegar, fresh NC ginger and a touch of raw cane sugar, ideal for boosting digestive and immune health at once.  It’s also an AMAZING drink mixer for seltzer, kombucha, cocktails and mocktails.  Winner of the 2022 Good Food Awards (Elixirs category) and finalist in the Our State “Made in NC” Awards.  Offers 1440 mg of elderberry per Tbsp.  Refrigerate after opening.

Sweet’s Daily Defense Tincture provides on-the-go daily immune support in a convenient dropper-top bottle.  This unsweetened version is vegan, keto, and diabetic-friendly, alcohol-free, safe for pregnancy, nursing, and infants, and never needs the fridge. 500 mg of elderberry per 1 mL dropperful.