Forking Elderberries!! Have I really screwd Up?

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Senior Member
Feb 2, 2009
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Well my wife and I went out and hoarded Elderberries on Friday. We brought home 45 gallons of the little purple monsters. We spent about 6 hours forking the buggers into a tub of water,floating off the unripe and putting them in freezer bags. We got 8-5 1/2 lb bags. We didn't get through a quarter of them. Our backs were killing us. So yesterday I took the remainder of the berries to a friends house and pressed the rest of them in a 150 year old cider press. I removed most of the larger woody stems before pressing. I looked at the remaining pulp after pressing and found that the unripe berries were hard enough not to have given up their juice. I ended up with 4.5 gallons of some wonderful looking juice. THEN I started looking around the WEB to find out about how to go about conversions of juice per pound of fruit. What I did find was all sorts of warnings about alkaloids and poisons in the stems and unripe fruit. So do you guys and dolls think that I have just ruined a bunch of good berries. Is there any way to test my juice to see what kind of evil might be lurking there? Will a slow boil of the juice help?
And if it is usable how much juice per gallon of must should I use?
Thanks all. Brad


Dutch Winemaker
Nov 5, 2006
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The poison in the berries and stems is called sambunigrin.

If you pressed the berries I doubt that much poison is leeched into the juice. Most of this is released as the berries are pulp-fermented.
However there could be unripe and half ripe berries that can have released some juice that contains sambunigrin.

This is the reason I always put on my web-log to better be safe as sorry:

Now US berries seem to be different as european berries but then the jury is still out on this.

I would hate so see that you got sick and with getting sick proved that I was right in saying they are poisenous.

Go the safe way.
Boiling the berries and juice will drive off sambunigrin.
15 minutes of heating should do the trick.