Elderberry and Barberry

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Elderberries and barberries are minor fruits worth rediscovering. Elderberries are pleasantly aromatic fruits borne by trees of the genus Sambucus, which are found across the northern hemisphere. They’re usually cooked or made into wine because they are too tart to be enjoyed raw, and contain antinutritional lectins that require heating to be inactivated. Elderberries are rich in anthocyanin pigments and antioxidant phenolic compounds. So is the barberry, from shrubby species of the northern-hemisphere Berberis, which is something like a miniature cranberry and dries well. Barberries are much used in Persian cooking, where they provide the tart rubies in a dish called jeweled rice.