Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Drying Elderberries

Right now, we only have a small quantity of berries ready for drying.  Later, we'll have huge flats of screens out, but for now this is my favorite method and it works for just about anything you'd want to air-dry.
Most everyone has some of these paper plate holders around the house.  We rarely use paper plates, but the holders have become something that we use almost daily from the moment the first spring greens show up until the very end of autumn.

The berries can be heaped on the plate to a thickness of about 1/2 inch.  They will quickly dry down and separate, and I've never had any spoilage.  The same can be said for most flowers or leaves.  There is a lot of circulation, and open baskets are great for drying. 

After a couple of days the berries are starting to look like tiny raisins, and they will continue to dry for a week or more, depending on the temperature and humidity.

When they have completely dried, keep them in a sealed container in a cool, dry place and you'll have plenty to get through the winter!


Kacie Dean said...

What is the best method to do this and keep ants away....we have terrible problems with those dang little black ants getting into anything they can.

Tina Sams said...

Oh boy - we had a battle with both the tiny ants and the big ones this year :-(. The very best thing I found (and I've got experience - they visit every year), is Rose Geranium essential oil. I put it on cotton balls, and run it along all of the edges of surface, and then all the baseboards in the kitchen. The key is really in finding their entry point, and giving that a good shot of the e.o.
You'll probably have to do it more than once. It took me about a week and a half to get rid of them.
Also, never leave anything out that they'd eat, and be sure all drips and crumbs are off counters and sinks.

Otherwise, the only thing I can think of is to hang the baskets from hooks in the ceiling.

Kacie Dean said...

Yes well I might just have to deal until the earthship is finished. We are currently living in a tiny 16 by 16 foot cabin with 5 children and it isn't built very well.. not insulated good and them come in right through the walls. hey would probably even get them if I hung them but I might try as I have a small elderberry bush about three feet high that is starting to give off some beautiful ripe berries, and my neighbors about a mile down the road have a huge one on the edge of their property that i am thinking of asking to harvest from also. Thanks for your advise though will have to keep that in mind for future use in the earthship.

Tina Sams said...

Wow - that's togetherness!
You might want to try putting them in a warm oven overnight. That works too. Cookie sheet.
Or in the trunk of the car? Anywhere hot where the light doesn't hit them too hard will be good.

Kacie Dean said...

Yes it is. When we first looked at the place it took some convincing myself that we could do it... before here the smallest place we have lived was two bedrooms... but it works and once we are finished with our earthship it will be a great feeling for everyone to have that space again and it will be so appreciated. That is a good idea about the car.. I have a suburban so the back would work well, no oven here though... lol we use a counter top hot plate burner and a newly acquired slow cooker.

Tina Sams said...

:-) yeah, I was thinking the oven might be a stretch.

Sarah Head said...

I've never dried elderberries. Usually my harvest goes straight into elixirs or cordials, any leftovers go in the freezer where they keep beautifully. Thanks for sharing your drying method, I may do this one day. What do you use your dried elderberries for?

Tina Sams said...

oh, I like them in teas and they're great for syrups, etc., in the middle of winter. They ship well too :-)
Also tincture well. Pretty much anything you'd use fresh ones for.

Diana said...

Have you ever had any problem with fruit fly larva getting into your drying elderberries? We have covered the top with paper towels, but we have a terrible fruit fly problem here.

Tina Sams said...

I haven't had that problem (yet), but in that case I would spread them on a cookie sheet (with shallow sides) and put them in a very low - warm oven to dry. They can go in about 1/2" deep, and they'll dry down to a single layer. Use the lowest setting. Although often people just use the pilot light for leaves, etc., but for berries, you need a little heat.

Anonymous said...

I've got fruit flies as well :( how long do you think they should be in a warm oven? Or do you think it would be ok to have them in the heated oven off and on a few times over days?

Tina Sams said...

Nudge the temp up just a little, and leave them in overnight. Just a hair above "warm" on the dial.


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