Elderberry Pancakes - Wild Harvest Recipe

My co-worker clued me into the ripe elderberries. Large umbels heavy with shiny dark berries were ready to be picked. After work on Tuesday Jeff and I went out and picked a bucket full of berries. Well, actually, we cut. It’s easiest to simply snip the stem taking the whole head of berries.

If you are going to juice the berries you don’t even need to take them off their stems. Put the heads of elderberry fruit in a nylon or linen bag and blanch them in boiling water and then hang them over a pot and let the juice drip out. Resist the urge to squeeze the juice out as this will yield a cloudy liquid which will in turn make jelly or wine cloudy.

However, if you plan to eat the berries whether in pie or preserves then you will need to remove them from their stems. A fork can be a useful tool to comb the berries off the stem or you can gently pull them off by hand.

In the end we picked about eight pounds of elderberries. I have to admit, I’ve never picked them before. I’m not sure what to do with them. I put up a post asking what to do with elderberries and I got lots of answers. I did put about a pint of the berries in really high proof grain alcohol with the idea that we can mix it with simple syrup and make elderberry liquor. Basically the same way limonchello is made. But I still have seven and a half pounds of elderberries.

Then for dinner last night we made elderberry pancakes. I used the recipe for our wedding pancakes. I have an epic post on how to make pancakes.  You can find it here: How to make Perfect Buttermilk Pancakes.  To upgrade to elderberry pancakes you need about a cup of berries. Make sure to get all the little bits of stems out. The stems and leaves contain the mild toxins sambucine and hydrocyanic acid that can cause nausea. The USDA has a nice brochure on elderberry uses, cultivating and history here: http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_sanic4.pdf

So back to pancakes. About a cup of berries is enough for one recipe of pancakes.  Simply sprinkle the berries onto the pancakes right after you put the batter into the skillet. Use a spoon or chopstick to poke the berries into the batter. If they aren't in the batter when you flip the pancake the berries will stick to the pan and could burn.  You could also mix the berries in with the batter and then the batter will turn purple. Either way you will get delicious pancakes.

This time I tried using the bacon grease collected off the forman grill from when we made BLTs last week to grease the skillet.  It made the pancakes a touch salty with just a hint of bacon flavor and a nice crispy edge.  I'd do that again in a heart beat. 

Anyways if you've got elderberries give this recipe a try.  You could even serve them with elderberry syrup. 


  1. I'd have never thought to put elderberries in pancakes but it sounds wonderful!

  2. I've never tried elderberries in pancakes before, but now I really want to give it a try! These look great!

  3. wow! those pancakes look amazing.

  4. Wonderful Elderberries, and in pancakes...why didn't I think of that :)

  5. I love elderberries, there is a lovely woman at our farmer's market who makes elderberry syrup and it's just perfect. These pancakes look so good, light and fluffy, nothing like a good pancake!

  6. Thanks for adding me on foodbuzz :) I love love love your blog and these pancakes look amazing! Happy Eating!

  7. Anonymous8/22/2010

    I don't think I've ever had an elderberry, but they look delicious...especially in those pancakes!

  8. Those look really delicious. I can't get elderberries here in NJ - closest thing are blackberries. I like to buy them one time during the season and make a tart OR a crumble with them. So delicious. The seeds drive me nuts but otherwise I love them.

  9. Excellent!

    The liquor idea sounds like it is worth trying for sure.

    And pancakes with something in them never fails.

    I have to see if I can find a local source of fresh elderberries. I have never actually seen them in person before.


  10. Oh man this looks delicious! And your photographs are beautiful! Everything here looks great!
    I recently launched my own blog, I'd love for you to check it out and let me know what you think! :) Thanks!

  11. I was about to make Elderberry wine, but whilst harvesting berries from the tree/bush in my garden, I saw that while from a distance the berries had looked ripe (and I was fretting a little about getting them harvested at the weekend, before going back to work and not having time) the apparently 'ripe' clusters still had a few green ones every so often, despite the stems turning pink, so I just managed to harvest a few - enough for this recipe in fact, so I will enjoy the pancakes tonight and go for wine next week, at the elderberries full ripeness and giving me the chance to buy some red wine yeast and more sugar too - yay! lol