It's late August 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.
In 2022, our area of Connecticut experienced a severe drought, you can see the tree canopies in the background were kinda sparse, and the grasses were brown. We took care to irrigate our bushes so they could produce. Elderberry bushes generally prefer a wet, well-drained soil.
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.
Their 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, elderberry soaps.