It's late summer and the elderberry bushes are ready to harvest. Here's Dave (above) being careful not to harvest a too-young cluster. A lot of "too-young" berries will produce a redder juice (rather than purple-blue) and an even tangier flavor. Waiting for the darkest berries possible means a better juice.
The bushes have finished their flowering stage by now. The photo above shows the white clusters of flowers in June. each of these small white flowers produce one berry.
Elderberry bushes prefer consistent moisture and a well-drained soil. 2023 brought us lots of rain. This year we installed a bird-deterrent (sounds). At least we don't have the massive cranes who frequent the elderberry bushes in Eastern Europe on their way south to Africa for the fall and winter months. Our biggest elderberry fans in the bird world are catbirds and finches.
These clusters are ready to be de-stemmed. For home use or a small orchard, a simple fork does a great job of separating the berries from the stems! We have a machine called TED (The Elderberry Destemmer) made by Terry Durham of River Hills Harvest.
Pictured above is our bladder-press style juicer where the berries are pressed into juice. The berries' final destination is in your bottle of Elderberry Apple Shots, Elderberry Juice, or Purple Granny Fire Cider. And after these berries make their contributions, we clean the seeds and make Elderberry Seed Oil which goes into our fabulous, rich, elderflower soaps.