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Native Elder Berries & Flowers

October 4, 2020: Freeze dried elderberries now available. Go to the order page, and you will see the PayPal buttons with flat rate shipping included! Also, a very small amount of freeze dried elderflowers are available: $10/ounce. Email to order freeze dried flowers, please:

October 2020 Update: MEC will NOT have enough berries to meet existing member and customer needs, so there are no berries available for any more orders until the 2021 harvest. MEC's sustainably grown, thermally dried native elderberries are sold out because we only sell what we grow. 

Thus, we are sold out of bulk frozen elderberries, frozen raw juice, thermally dried elderberries and dried elderflowers. Every year sees more acreage in production, but demand still way exceeds production, and production challenges both natural and technical remain. 

Harvest yields varied across the board for different reasons. Since most of our growers also make their own products that sold out last spring, they also required more of their harvest.

Pre-orders for dried native elderflowers from new customers open June 1, 2021. See prices on the Dried Elderflower page. After June 1, please email me at 

Click on the drop down menu for the ingredient you wish to purchase. If there is a PayPal button, it means we have product to sell. Each button will present any options on quantity and pricing with shipping included where possible.  (credit cards accepted)

The native dried elderberries chew like little berry kernels about the size of peppercorns. They do not need to be cooked to be enjoyed. You may add them to cereals or salads and in baking, for example. Naturally more reddish, North American black elderberries taste and smell better than the imports. Most dried elderberries imported from Europe are wild collected. European research found that “...wild elderberry have the lowest quantities of these bioactive compounds…” [Point #14, Functional Ingredient page] 

Our native elderberry cultivars (Sambucus nigra canadensis) were selected from the wild (including named cultivars) and usually planted in fields following organic, agroforestry / permaculture land management principles. They are picked, destemmed, sanitized and frozen fresh on the same day in 25 lb. four gallon food grade pails (rated 28 lb.).

Are Raw Native Elderberries Safe? 

Elderberry Flower Production and Cyanide Concern
Andrew L. Thomas University of Missouri Division of Plant Sciences, Southwest Research Center Mt. Vernon, MO.  This article gives a photo and graph rundown of a multi-year study investigating the whether native North American Sambucus (nigra) canadensis contains proto-cyanide glycosides in quantities sufficient to warrant specific processing requirements beyond clean harvest. 

Summary of Findings:

  • Picrate paper method was successfully used to assess the total cyanogenic potential.
  • A control test with two apple varieties showed high levels of cyanide in the seeds.
  • No cyanide was detected in commercial (processed) elderberry juice
  • Levels of cyanide detected in tissues of fresh berries were very low; lowest in juice & seeds and highest in stems & green berries.
  • Levels of CNG’s detected with LC-MS method were very low in all tissues and consistent with picrate results.
  • Detected levels pose no threat to American Elderberry consumers. Excluding stems, green berries and leaves in juice preparation is recommended.

[Click here to read the full article.]

This does not seem to be true for European Sambucus nigra elderberries, which have a history of production processes to neutralize the potential issues related to glycosides. That is why those imported ingredients are more processed and may also be part of the reason why native elderberries taste better than the European ones.

While the latest research at the university of Missouri (soon to be published) indicates that fresh/frozen, ripe elderberries do not have significant levels of glycosides, some few people seem to be strongly affected by consuming raw elderberries or elderberry juice, where it upsets their digestive system. Why they have a lower tolerance for elderberry is not clearly understood. Fresh and raw frozen berries that are fermented or heated so that the entire volume reaches 180° F, or more have not been associated with any health related incidents to our knowledge

© 2020 Midwest Elderberry Cooperative