Elderberry Capers

March 15, 2023 0 Comments

Elderberry capers are a wild food version of traditional capers, enjoyed with many mediterranean cuisines.

They are absolutely delicious, and add a unique tangy flavor and crunch to things such as fish, lamb, sandwiches, sauce and more. Instead of using the unriped flower buds of the caper bush (Capparis spinosa or Capparis inermis), we are using unripe berries from the elderberry bush!

Both species of elderberry, Sambucus canadensis (American Elderberry) which grows wild, and Sambucus nigra (European Elderberry) which is cultivated, can be used for this recipe. Most people are extremely familiar with the name elderberry as it is one of the most popular medicinal herbs used around the world.

Unripe and ripe elderberry

Elderberries and flowers of elderberry are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that boost the immune system. They tame inflammation, lessen stress, and help protect your heart, too. Elderberries also help prevent and ease cold and flu symptoms.

Elderberries are also edible. We can make things such as jams, jellies and even pies using this little black berry, with an exception. The uncooked berries, leaves, bark, and roots of the elderberry plant contain the chemicals lectin and cyanide, which can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

The leaves, barks and roots of elderberry should never be consumed raw.

Cooking or drying the berries will remove the cyanide components and makes them safe to consume.

Can we eat raw elderberries?

So what about brine and fermenting?

Thankfully the fermenting process renders the cyanide components harmless, therefore, we are able to consume elderberries in their raw form.

Elderberry Capers

Ingredients for 1/2 pint jar

6 ounces green elderberries

• 3 1/2 teaspoons salt

• 1 teaspoon honey or maplesyrup

• Water (around 2 tablespoons) enough to cover the berries

Vinegar Brine

4 ounces apple cider vinegar

• 1 ounce water

• 2 tablespoon raw honey ormaple syrup


First, separate the berries from the stem and run under cold water to remove any insects.

In a bowl combine your berries salt and honey. Mix well and pack into your jar. Add enough water to fill the jar and cover the berries.

Cure jar for 3 – 5 days, burping if necessary. After curing, strain the contacts and then place the berries back in the jar. You can also add spices at this time like bay leaf, thyme, tarragon, etc.

In a saucepan bring your vinegar brine ingredients to a simmer. Pour the hot liquid over your berries and seal your jar.

Store in the refrigerator for at least 6 months before consuming. Your jar should last much longer. This recipe is easy delicious and best of all, completely natural! Pair with fish, smoked meat, crackers, olives etc. The possibilities are endless!

Smoked trout mousse topped with elderberry capers

Safety Considerations

There are no known side effects to eating dried, cooked or fermented elderberries. If you are pregnant, nursing or taking medication, it’s recommended to talk to your healthcare provider first.

If you harvesting your elderberries from the wild, make sure you are 100% positive of identification. Never consume a plant you are not sure what it is. View our disclaimer here.

Topping for crackers and smoked meat

Final thought

Elderberries are such an amazing plant in so many ways. Incorporating this berry into your diet is an excellent way to receive its medicinal benefits, all while eating fresh and making a connection to your land.

Get creative with your recipes and enjoy the learning experience!

Stay Wild

Kayce Heister

Grilled salmon with elderberry capers and sautéed fiddlehead ostrich ferns
Kayce Heister
Kayce Heister

Kayce is a Clinical Herbalist, Holistic Health Practitioner (HHP), Active Forager, Wild Food Chef and Mother of three. She has spent the last 18 years practicing herbalism and natural health, and spends most of her time educating others on the amazing potential the natural world can offer.

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