What Does Elderberry Taste Like? The Answer Might Surprise You

Elderberry plants bloom from early to mid-summer, which means that you can harvest them from July through September in most parts of the country.

There are three main varieties in North America:

  • European elderberry, also called the common or black elder.
  • American elderberry, also called the black elderberry or sweet elder.
  • Red-berried elder, which is considered dangerous and should be avoided unless you know exactly how to prepare it.

A bunch of elderberries that make people wonder what does elderberry taste like

What Does Elderberry Taste Like?

For the most part, elderberry tastes like tart, tangy, and sometimes bitter berries. If you want the most sweetness, try the American variety of elderberries, but keep in mind that elderberries aren’t nearly as sweet as you might think.

Many people consider this berry too bland or bitter to eat, which is why you seldom see people eating raw elderberries. But people use elderberries to make elderberry jelly, jam, and even wine.

Flavors and Texture in Elderberries

Elderberries have a flavor that is mostly tart and very astringent. Again, they are difficult to eat raw because the taste is not exactly pleasant to most people.

Elderberries are about the size of small blueberries and are bluish-purple in color.

The texture of the elderberry is somewhat firm and juicy, similar to a blueberry’s texture.

Elderberry bushes also have sweet-smelling blossoms that bloom before the berries arrive.

Can You Eat Raw Elderberries?

During the summer, the elderberry tree has white blossoms that give way to clusters of small green berries before turning a bluish-purple color. It is crucial that you eat the berries only after they turn from green to blue because the green berries are toxic.

That being said, even if you eat the berries when they’re the right color, they still will not have a great taste. So while you can eat elderberries raw, you cannot eat the green ones and even the bluish-purple ones probably won’t be yummy enough for you.

How Do You Eat Elderberries?

While most people will not eat elderberries on their own, there are things you can do with these berries to make them taste wonderful. For one thing, adding elderberries to spices such as allspice, cinnamon, and cloves makes for a delicious flavor, and you can even add them to homemade wines for a more unique flavor.

Elderberry jams and jellies are delicious, and if you add elderberries to other fruits in your pies and other desserts, you can enhance the flavor and color of your food.

Keep in mind that all foods made with elderberries might have a hint of tartness to them, but this will only add to their unique flavor.

Elderberries have also been used for medicinal purposes. You can use them to relieve cold, flu, and allergy symptoms. One of the easiest ways to do this is to make them into a tea and sip on it.

Person holding elderberries wondering what does elderberry taste like

Benefits of Elderberries

Elderberry benefits are numerous. In addition to easing cold and flu symptoms, steeped or cooked elderberry can also help with conditions such as:

  • Constipation
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Stress
  • Epilepsy
  • Headaches and fever
  • Kidney problems
  • Minor skin conditions

As usual, if you are pregnant or nursing or have any type of medical condition, it’s best not to use elderberries for any of these symptoms until you talk to your doctor first. Elderberries have lots of antioxidants and vitamins that can boost your immune system. In fact, the elderberry plant is one of the most healing plants in the world. But it’s never a bad idea to check with your doctor before you consume the berries.

What Do Elderflowers Taste Like?

Elderflowers are found on the elder tree and are a creamy-white color. The Elderflower flavor has been described as hearty, woodsy, floral, and sweet. They have a clean flavor that can be added to numerous foods to make them taste sweeter. More popular in Europe than in the U.S., elderflowers are often added to cakes and other baked goods to give them a robust and sweet flavor.


Elderberries have a much better taste when they’re cooked or used in jams and jellies. You can eat the berries raw as long as they aren’t green and unripe, but they do not have a sweet taste like some people expect them to have. They also have a lot of medicinal value and are therefore sometimes steeped as teas and consumed that way. They do indeed have a lot of useful purposes.