Sunday, July 26, 2015

Elderblueberry Pie

We're off and rolling out pie dough this week on 
Rose's Alpha Bakers.

Rose created an elderberry pie with equal amounts of blueberries
in The Baking Bible.
Elderberries grow across North America, Europe, Western Asia 
and North Africa. 

Not one store in my town carried fresh elderberries
even though the city is surrounded by them.

This is the elusive elderberry bush.  By the size of the trunk it must have been well over
a hundred years old.  It is also a protected species but the park ranger said

"Just don't be conspicuous."
Yes, an undercover elderberry caper. 

There were many Western Elderberry bushes, tall as trees, growing along the river.
The tangled bush had delicate elderberry flowers, new green elderberries, 
ripe elderberries and dried elderberries from last year.
It finally dawned on me there was more than one elderberry bush in the mayhem.
Most had a white color over the dark blue/purple
which I learned is the "bloom" when the berries are ripe.
Had I known, I would have only picked whitish ones.
The bloom doesn't wash off.

They are tiny little things.  The smallest berry I have ever seen.
They easily came off the stems.

After all that, they didn't fill the required two cups
but weighed exactly the right amount.

Gotta love grams!

Blueberries are at the peak of the season.

The berries, cornstarch, water and sugar brought to a boil.

Lemon juice stirred into the thickened berries.

Poured into Rose's cream cheese pie crust and off to the oven.

And here it is!

The flavor is very mild.
I realize wild elderberries may differ in intensity
from cultivated elderberries.
The ratio of sugar to berries may need a bit of adjusting.
I also miss the punch of lemon zest that Rose's 
other berry pies have.
A day later, however, the flavor intensified.
It is a delightful pie.

This has certainly been a learning experience.
I had no idea I lived in the midst of elderberries.
It never occurred to me why 
an award winning restaurant serving French cuisine
 near Yosemite, is so named.
is the adjoining five star accommodations 
which translates to Castle Elderberry.
I just thought it was a cute name and
put it on my wish list of places to go one day.

While searching around for elderberries, I came across
an elderberry walking tour and taste testing with elderberry ice cream and scones
but alas,  it was filled up. 

I have to say, it made me realize how urbanized I am.
It's a bit daunting to be out in the "wilds" wondering if I
 was picking the right thing.  
And yet, it felt hauntingly eerie being on land where Native Americans 
gathered elderberries for centuries.
They understood the berries many medicinal properties.

Image result for paintings of california native americans


  1. Wonderful post so informative :) and wonderful you picked your own elderberries … glad you weren't conspicuous! Pie looks fabulous and I'm glad you ended up finding it delightful.

  2. Ha! I can't believe you're living in the midst of an elderberry storm and you hadn't realised until you started looking for them. Obviously they're worth some of the fuss? I'm impressed you braved the snakes too. Your pie is very handsome with a lovely tan.

  3. I'm glad you were so determined to get the elderberries. Who would have suspected that baking a pie would lead to a wilderness adventure!

  4. Awesome that you "went the extra mile" which opened whole new windows of experience!

  5. You are amazing Vicki to brave the snakes and all to pick the elderberries! Also you had to be careful to pick the riped ones too right? Your pie looks wonderful! You had the most authentic feel of the pie! I am envious! :)

  6. What a great post! So fun to learn from your experience, and great pictures, and the traditions - just such an expansive experience and thank you for sharing it.

  7. So cool that you found elderberries! And I love the starburst pattern on your pie.

  8. Good to see what these little things look like! Now I'll know what to look for in the markets when we hit the right season, here. Thanks for sharing your experience, that was great!

  9. Hi Vicki, what a great post! Aren't you amazed at the size of the elderberries? I picked up mine today from the sweetest farmer in the world--there is an elderberry farm near me!--and I was amazed at how tiny they are! Baking my pie tomorrow. I am so delighted to read that you picked them yourself!

  10. Vicki, I am simply in awe at the way yours came right off the little stems!! It has to be because they were fresh and dry. Thanks for your encouragement on my infuriating, yet delicious pie!

  11. Great post and pie. I wonder if there is any way to accentuate the natural elderberry flavor.

  12. Great post Vivki. I wonder how fresh elderberries tasted against the dried ones. I admire your determination.