Can you eat elderberries without cooking them?

In this article, we will answer the question, “Can you eat elderberries without cooking them?”, along with more information about elderberries, such as ways to store them, and delicious recipes to make with them.

Can you eat elderberries without cooking them?

No, you cannot eat elderberries without cooking them as they are poisonous. They contain the presence of cyanide-inducing glycoside, which causes cyanide to build up in the body. 

If consumed, it can lead to symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. However, cooked elderberries are perfectly safe to eat.

How to tell if the elderberries are rotten?

You can tell if the elderberries are rotten from their appearance, smell, and taste. Spoiled ones will look like they have skin with wrinkles, and they will be very soft to the touch. 

They will also have a strong pungent smell, along with a strong bitter taste. If you notice these signs, do not consume the elderberries, as they could be contaminated with pathogens.

How to store elderberries?

There are many different ways to store elderberries, such as:

At room temperature

You can store the elderberries at room temperature, although they will not last for long. They will rot within a few days, and mold will begin to grow. 

To avoid this, place it in a dry, cool, and dark corner of the kitchen away from sunlight. However, dried elderberries can last for a long time at room temperature, as they are already preserved with no additional moisture.


You can refrigerate the elderberries, which will make them last much longer for up to a week or 10 days. Continue to check if the berries have begun to rot from time to time, as it could lead to the entire batch being spoiled. Do not wash the berries before storage, and store them in a container with plenty of space, to avoid squishing them.


You can freeze elderberries in the freezer and add them to desserts. When added to desserts, they taste like frozen candy and are fun to eat. 

Freeze them by placing them in a bag or open container after washing and drying them. Frozen elderberries last a long time, and you can even freeze their juice for later use.

What are the health benefits of elderberries?

Elderberries have many health benefits such as:

High nutritional content

Elderberries have a high nutritional content, rich in vitamin C, dietary fiber, and anthocyanins. These make the berries very healthy to eat. 

The high amount of fiber ensures that constipation is less likely to occur, and the vitamins present are a good source of antioxidants for the body.

Good for the heart

Studies conducted on animal models have shown that elderberry juice reduces the levels of fat in the blood, which directly reduces cholesterol levels. Since they also contain flavonoids such as anthocyanins, it reduces the risk of heart attacks and stroke. 

They have also been shown to reduce the levels of fat deposits in the liver, which is beneficial for those with fatty livers.

Improves cold and flu symptoms

Elderberry extracts combined with several herbs have been shown to reduce the symptoms of flu in individuals. Commercially, elderberry extracts come in the form of liquids, pills, and gummies, which are taken to recover from flu quicker. 

One study proved that elderberry syrup reduced the symptoms of influenza in people, within 2-4 days, as opposed to not taking it.

What dishes can you make with elderberries?

You can make several dishes using elderberries, such as:


Crumbles are a good way to combine elderberries with other delicious fruits such as apples, pears, and plums. Crumbles taste delicious when cooked with a bit of sugar, and they can be added to any dish, or eaten alone as the perfect evening snack. They are easy to make, and you can even add nuts to the crumble to add texture and flavor

Jams and chutneys

You can make delicious jams and chutneys using elderberries, as they have a fruity flavor. Since the berries are low in pectins, they take time to set and require additional sugar or lemon juice to achieve the jam-like consistency. The jams and chutneys can be eaten with bread or added to tarts.


Bake delicious pies using elderberries, and they serve as the perfect tea-time snack. Try making elderberry and almond pie, which can be served with a scoop of ice cream or fresh cream. 

Be careful to cook the elderberries thoroughly, to prevent stomach cramps and indigestion problems.

Other FAQs about berries that you may be interested in.

Why do raspberries have hair?

Is it safe to eat frozen berries?

Are elderberry seeds safe to eat?


In this article, we have answered the question, “Can you eat elderberries without cooking them?”, along with more information about elderberries, such as ways to store them, and delicious recipes to make with them.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.