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Old proverbs and legends tell of the importance of elderberry. Traditional folk medicine makes its flowers and berries an essential part of the medicine cabinet. The shrub also provides trendy food hunters with easy prey for homemade delicacies.

Robust alpine plant

It grows at the edge of the forest and on hiking trails, on farms and country houses: the robust elderberry bush thrives wherever the soil is rich in nitrogen. It grows between three and seven meters high and can be around a hundred years old. The elderberry bush is an integral part of the alpine landscape.

Mythical shrub

Rural culture celebrates the elder. You have to take your hat off to the elderberry, according to a farmer's rule. It shows great respect for this fertile plant, which has been considered the tree of life and death for many centuries. According to old legends, the newborns are shaken out of the elder tree. In some places, dead people put elder branches on their graves. If they sprout, it is a sign that the deceased was well received in the Everafter.


The name probably comes from the Old High German "holuntar". “Hol” means hollow, “tar” means tree. This is a reference to its hollow branches filled with pith. Legends and stories also connect the elder with Mother Hulda.

elderberry juice
RECIPE Elderberry Juice


  • 1 kg elderberries
  • 1l water
  • 500 grams of sugar
  • 1 tsp cloves (whole)
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 3-4 star anise
  • 1 organic orange




Wash and stem the elderberries. Put the water in a saucepan with the spices and the sliced orange and simmer for about 30 minutes. Mash the berries with a potato masher, add to the hot stock and simmer for another 15 minutes. Leave for a few hours, then strain through a cloth and squeeze firmly. Let the juice boil, stir in sugar. Pour into sterilized bottles while still hot and seal immediately.

The effect of elderflowers

One thing is for sure: the elderberry is extremely fertile because it can be harvested twice. In early summer it gives us fragrant delicate flowers. Almost every farmer's wife uses it to prepare elderberry syrup or elderberry sparkling wine and bakes delicious elderberry donuts. Dried and mixed with meadowsweet and linden blossom, the elderflowers make a tea that is particularly effective against colds, fevers and headaches. As an inhalation, it is also helpful for frontal and sinus infections. Natural beauticians make elderflower oil to care for sensitive, dry and irritated skin. After too much sun, it soothes and moisturizes the skin.


How elderberries are used

Elderberry chutney, apple and elderberry punch, apple and elderberry confectionery: these are just a few of the delicacies that can be prepared with elderberries in autumn. But be careful: unripe berries and seeds of ripe berries, but also the leaves contain sambunigrin, a substance that can lead to stomach ache and diarrhea. In order for it to decompose and become harmless, the berries must always be boiled or dried.

We have selected the elderberry juice from our pool of rural recipes. It strengthens the entire immune system and has an anti-inflammatory effect due to its high flavonoid content. If you want to prepare for the cold season, it is best to drink a small glass of elderberry juice every day. Still caught a feverish cold? Warm juice, drunk as hot as possible, relieves the affliction. Juice made according to our recipe has a shelf life of six to eight months. Adding more sugar can extend the shelf life a little. Our orange addition gives the classic berry juice recipe a creative touch - and an extra portion of vitamin C.

Isolde v. Mersi

Guest author: Isolde v. Mersi

Isolde von Mersi comes from South Tyrol's Pustertal valley and lives in Vienna now. As a popular reporter and book writer for Austrian and German magazines and publishing houses, she explores a huge variety of cultural, culinary and naturalistic treasures of the Alpine countries and its people.

She has been feeling at home in Ötztal for many years already as she contributes to the ÖTZTAL MAGAZINE on a regular basis. And she has found many friends in the valley.