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Harvesting, Processing & Marketing

Harvesting & Post-harvest Handling

  • Blue elderberries are typically harvested between mid-June and mid-September

  • When ripe, a dusty white bloom forms on the berries and can be harvested as the white bloom fades

  • Berries are removed from stems prior to processing, and destemming equipment exists at different scales

  • Elderberries contain many vitamins and high amounts of bioactive flavonoids, anthocyanins, and phenolic acids linked to antioxidant activity

  • Stems and green berries contain cyanogenic glycosides, a harmful substance that can cause health issues

Elder Processing

  • This section describes techniques for freezing and drying elderberries since these are the two most common raw states for berries to be sold.

  • Elderflowers are most commonly sold in their dried form.

  • Elderberry and elderflower are also used to make a wide range of value-added products, which can be made on the farm or by a co-packer.

Elderberry marketing and sales channels

  • There is significant market potential for elderberry – globally and locally.

  • Value-added elder products are manufactured at different scales across the supply chain: by on-farm value-added producers, herbalists, specialty food entrepreneurs, and nutraceutical corporations.

  • Both processors and retailers express strong interest in California-grown elderberries, and 67% of elder processors surveyed said they did not find enough supply to meet their needs.

  • Prices for elderberry offer substantial opportunity for profitability, but vary significantly across market channels.