I'll always be grateful to my friend Amanda for introducing me to elderberry juice. One of the glories of the brief Scandinavian summer is the variety of berries that thrive under the midnight sun … delicate cloudberries in the Arctic north, numerous varieties of currants, lingonberries ... and elderberries. Short of actually visiting Scandinavia during picking season, though, the easiest way to enjoy the unique flavor of elderflowers or of elderberries is by ordering them in safts (concentrated fruit juices), jams, or jellies.
At first our kids weren't so sure they shared my enthusiasm. Before they tried them, their only exposure to elderberry plants had been the French knight's taunting of the "dappy Engleesh knnniggits" in Monty Python's Search for the Holy Grail: "Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!"
As always, our eldest son Eric was the one most willing to try something new (he's also the kid who at a young age scarfed calamari in Italy and braved lutefisk at Poulsbo, Washington's annual Viking Fest). One taste of the tangy syrup mixed in water and he was hooked – meaning that I now regularly order both elderflower and lingonberry saft in quantity from one of my favorite online Scandinavian food stores.
So now the kids welcome elderberries almost as much as they do their honorary aunt Amanda.
They still think I'm a hamster.
Elderflower saft image & text ©Kari Diehl, licensed to About.com.