The health benefits of elderberry
Elderberries are perfect for wild collection; they grow in abundance and can be harvested every year without harming the plant. Our wild elderberries come from southern Hungary, where there is still a thriving industry of wild herb collection. The collectors, who are predominantly of Roma origin, have formed a small cooperative made up of about 30 people. Every year they harvest the fresh berries from a patchwork of different sized areas of organically certified land. The fresh berries are immediately taken to our local partner for drying and export.
In addition to elderberries the collectors harvest a variety of other herbs, including elderflower and nettles, which we also use in our teas and herbal supplements. By harvesting herbs, or herb parts that mature at different times of the year the collectors are able to spread their workload and generate a regular source of income.
Just remember, if you go elderberry or elderflower collecting, leave some for wildlife – they are an important source of food for many migrating birds, as well as small mammals such as dormice and voles.
What are elderberries used for?
Bursting with brightly coloured pigments that act as natural antioxidants, elderberries are a natural source of vitamin C. Well-known for supporting our immune function, vitamin C plays an important role in allowing our immune system to communicate and co-ordinate a response.
Sipping on herbal tea is a fantastic way of incorporating elderberries into your day-to-day lives. Pukka Herbs Organic Elderberry and Echinacea tea is packed with antioxidants to reduce stress and fight infections.
If you want the power of elderberries, whilst benefitting from other natural immune-supporting ingredients like thyme and manuka honey, Pukka Elderberry Syrup is a delicious remedy that can be taken by the spoonful.
How are elderberries processed?
Depending on whether we are blending elderberry syrup or elderberry tea, the berries are either dehydrated or juiced. Berries destined for our teas are dried in whole bunches in a large hot air dryer at about 45°C for two days. The elderberry syrup is prepared from a concentrate, which is made by evaporating freshly squeezed elderberry juice under low pressure at a low temperature to preserve the medicinal and nutritional properties.
The elderberry juice for our syrup takes 6kgs of berries concentrated to 1kg, giving you an amazing 12000mg of fresh berries for every 15mls of syrup.
Did you know?
The flowers and berries are indigestible in their raw form, so it’s always best to cook them before eating. They’re delicious when added to a blackberry and apple pie!
Author: Dr Vivien Rolfe
Head of Herbal Research
Viv is a gut physiologist and has recently achieved a Foundation in Herbal Medicine. She leads Pukka’s research programme to explore how herbs can benefit our health and be used to widen healthcare choices. This includes research into herbs for Women’s health and as alternatives to antibiotics. She establishes global research partnerships and enthuses the next generation of scientists through Pukka’s Scholarship Scheme. She is a champion of diversity in science and open access to knowledge.
BSc, PhD, PFHEA
Years of experience:
30+ years in the wellbeing industry and academia
Degree in Physiology University of Sheffield, PhD University of Sheffield, Foundation in Herbalism Heartwood, MBA Entrepreneurship (on-going) Edinburgh Napier University, Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Membership of Nutrition Society, Physiological Society, Society for Chemical Industry, and other herbal and botanical groups.