When the elderberries ripen on our property, it marks a subtle change in the seasons. For us, it means summer us soon coming to an end. As the berries turn a deep purple color with enough weight to bend the branches down towards the earth, we embrace that summer is on the way out. Camille and I collect these berries quickly, filling our baskets before the birds fill their bellies with these earthy, medicinal fruits.
Unlike many other fruits on the landscape, elderberries aren't to be consumed raw, as they are toxic without cooking or preserving. So we collect as many as we can before implementing several techniques to access their medicine. Fermented into mead or simmered into syrup are two methods we incorporate for appropriately turning elderberries into a useable food.
With an abundant crop this summer and more to harvest, I decided to make my first elderberry pie. Nothing too fancy, just straightforward ingredients and a real buttery crust make for a delicious dessert.
How To Make An Elderberry Pie
For the Crust~
- 2 1/4 cups flour ( I used local worthog wheat)
- 1 tablespoon maple sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
- 5-6 tablespoons ice cold water
- 1 egg, whisked
For the Filling:
- 3 1/2 cups fresh elderberries
- 1 cup maple sugar
- 1 tablespoon acorn starch
- Make the crust by combining the flour, salt, and sugar then cut in the butter by hand or using a pastry cutter. As the butter gets incorporated into the flour, it should clump up into pea-sized chunks. The goal is for a flaky crust, so be light with your hands and try not to overwork the dough.
- Add enough ice water to bring the dough together, then divide into half, flatten both into disks, then wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- In a separate bowl, combine the elderberries, sugar, and starch, then set aside until ready to use.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Once the dough has firmed up in the fridge, remove and begin to roll out one disc on a lightly floured surface. Roll out evenly until about 1/8 inch thick then carefully pick up and press into a circular pie tin. Trim the excess and crimp the edges.
- Fill the pie with the prepared fruit then repeat with the second disc. I chose a lattice top which meant cutting strips about 1/2 inch thick before weaving them together.
- I use the whisked egg to brush onto the top crust which will brown up nicely in the oven. Once your top is on, place the pie in the oven and bake until the crust is golden brown and the berries begin to bubble a bit around the edges. This could take about 40-45 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly then serve with whipped or ice cream.