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The Traditions & Powers of Elderberries

Splatsin Elder, Jean Brown, recalls picking many different types of berries including elderberries in the 1950s. Jean used to pick berries alongside her mother in the area that is now the Lassertie Subdivision. Once the berries were harvested, Jean and her mother would process them by drying or cooking, to make syrup for colds and illness. The harvest would last the winter season.

Elderberries play an important role in our health and well-being as Indigenous people. Renowned for their healing powers, the flowers and berries are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that can boost your immune system, and help tame inflammation, reduce stress, and help keep your heart healthy.

  • High in vitamin C. There are 52 mg of vitamin C per cup of fruit, which accounts for 57% of the daily value.
  • High in dietary fiber. Elderberries contain 10 grams of fiber per cup of fresh berries, about 36% of the daily value.
  • A good source of phenolic acids. These compounds are potent antioxidants that can help reduce damage from oxidative stress in the body.
  • A good source of flavonols. Elderberry contains the antioxidant flavonols quercetin, kaempferol, and isorhamnetin. The flowers contain up to 10 times more flavonols than the berries.
  • Rich in anthocyanins. These compounds give the fruit its characteristic dark black-purple color and are a strong antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects.

Elderberry Jelly Recipe by Splatsin Holistic Nutritionist, Kristi Christian:


  • 3 cups prepared juice (about 3 lb. fully ripe elderberries).
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice.
  • 1 box SURE-JELL Fruit Pectin.
  • 1/2 tsp butter or margarine.
  • 4 1/2 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl.


  1. Bring boiling water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.
  1. Remove and discard large stems from elderberries. Crush fruit thoroughly; place in saucepan. Cook on medium heat until juice starts to flow, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15 min., stirring occasionally. Place 3 layers of damp cheesecloth or jelly bag in large bowl. Pour prepared fruit into cheesecloth. Tie cheesecloth closed; hang and let drip into bowl until dripping stops. Press gently. Measure exactly 3 cups prepared juice into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot. (If necessary, add up to 1/2 cup water for exact measure.) Stir in lemon juice.
  1. Stir pectin into juice in saucepot. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.
  1. Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 5 min. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)
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