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But why exactly would anyone want an Elderberry?

Let me begin with the standard disclaimer: Bitterroot Botanicals of Idaho's Wild Crafted Elderberry Syrup is manufactured, marketed, and sold strictly as A FOOD PRODUCT. But, just because a food product is delicious doesn't mean that it can't have significant health benefits. So let's dive right into what makes Elderberries, and specifically, Bitterroot Botanicals Wild Crafted Elderberry Syrup so special. I'm going to start with just five key points about each of these topics.


1) ORAC or Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity. The ORAC value of a food accurately measures and quantifies how many Oxygen Radicals a food can absorb and deactivate. ORAC is measured in Trolox Equivalents (TE), whatever that means lol. Basically I'm using the value as a means of comparing Elderberries to other foods touted for their antioxidant properties. Most of us know that Oxygen free radicals are contributors to cancers, aging, degenerative diseases and infections (including viral infections). The ORAC value of Elderberries is 10775 TE, as compared to tart cherry 1700-5000 TE, pomegranate 4479 TE, and blueberry 5562 TE. The Antioxidant properties of Elderberries are a result of flavonoid compounds including; Isorhamnetin, kaempferol, and quercitin. Quercitin itself is a very interesting antioxidant and is frequently used to fight inflammation, pain, and allergies.

2) Studies have shown that Elderberries may shorten the duration of viral infections and reduce symptoms. This article states " While the extent of black elder's antiviral effects are not well known, antiviral and antimicrobial properties have been demonstrated in these extracts, and the safety of black elder is reflected by the United States Food and Drug Administration approval as generally recognized as safe. A deficit of studies comparing these S. nigra products and standard antiviral medications makes informed and detailed recommendations for use of S. nigra extracts in medical applications currently impractical." Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Of course informed and detailed recommendations are impractical due to a "deficit of studies". Big Pharma hasn't figured out a way to profit from Elderberries. One 2004 study of 60 people with influenza found that those who took 15 mL of elderberry syrup four times per day showed symptom improvement in 2 to 4 days, while the control group took 7 to 8 days to improve (10Trusted Source).

Furthermore, a study of 312 air travelers taking capsules containing 300 mg of elderberry extract three times per day found that those who got sick experienced a shorter duration of illness and less severe symptoms (11Trusted Source). The "trusted source" footnote is a part of the article, not my footnote.

3) In addition to Quercitin, which is used in many commercial preparations, Elderberries also contain Shikimic acid, which is an intermediary agent used in "Tamiflu". More large companies are taking notice of the popularity of Elderberry products and looking to profit from them. Even Robitussin has an Elderberry cough syrup, although the Elderberry content is advertised as a laughable "15 elderberries per dose"

4) Elderberries assist the body in Cytokine production which is a crucial part of the bodies immune response. " A 2001 study involving healthy volunteers taking the elderberry product Sambucol® revealed that one of the ways Elderberry supports healthy immune function is by assisting in cytokine production and regulation. Cytokines are proteins used by the body for communication between immune cells and local tissues. They increase or decrease, as needed, to suit the body's needs."

5) In short, using Elderberry products may not prevent you from getting the common cold, the flu, or the latest variant named after a Greek letter, but they may very well shorten the duration of the infection and reduce symptoms. Hmmmm, sounds a lot like the same claims made by Big Pharma regarding their most recent vaccines.

Other reported potential benefits of Elderberries are:

Improved heart health by reducing cholesterol, uric acid, and blood sugar levels

May have cancer inhibiting properties according to European studies

May improve symptoms of sinusitis, bronchitis, and allergies

May have some antidepressant properties.

Remember, none of these claims have been evaluated by the FDA, and few studies have been done because pharmaceutical companies have not yet figured out how to synthesize and profit from the unique composition of Elderberries. However, the studies that have been done indicate positive results and for some reason Elderberries have been used for centuries!

Wow!!! That was boring and dry. Let's move on to something a bit more lively.


1) We have the coolest meme ever in our title. Okay, maybe not a valid reason to buy our product, but definitely worth some style points;)

2) Bitterroot Botanicals Wild Crafted Elderberry Syrup is hand crafted in small batches by us, and only us. Every step from picking and cleaning berries to labeling and final shipping is done by hand. We have Zero automated processes. This means that even after bottling, every product is handled at a minimum of 5-6 times. It also means that when you purchase from us, you are supporting a small business that believes in sustainable harvest, organic ingredients, and in turn supports small, local businesses. HOWEVER (see item 3)

3) We are a licensed food manufacturer, governed by both FDA and Idaho Department of Health regulations. Our products have been evaluated and approved by an independent laboratory for content, processes, and shelf stability. BY LAW, we have to follow the same process, use the same ingredient ratio, and keep batch records including bottling temperatures, batch PH, number of units and size of units per batch. We have filed with the Idaho Department of Health an HACCP (Hazard analysis and critical control point) plan detailing these processes and record keeping. Basically, we follow the same food manufacturing regulations that large corporations do including: Food Product Safety Manager certification, Master Food Processor certification, product recall plan, the list goes on forever. For us, all of this "Red Tape" insures that our customers always get a consistent and safe food product. Isn't that important to you?

4) There are hundreds of large companies offering products similar to ours. I would refer to reason number 2 in regards to that. There are thousands of "cottage industry" manufacturers making Elderberry Syrup, and I would refer you to reason number 3. We have, and continue to, invest incredible amounts of time, energy, and other resources into our business to bring our customers the best of both worlds. Hand Made Quality and Attention to detail with Processes that deliver safe food products with integrity.

5) We only use Wild Crafted and Organic ingredients. We believe that Mother Nature provides us with the finest ingredients for our products without the use of chemicals and artificial fertilizers. If we are lucky enough to have a bountiful harvest, it is because Mother Nature provided it. If not, Mother Nature had a different plan for the year, and she had a reason. Our Organic ingredient suppliers are like us, small independent businesses that believe in quality and sustainability above all else.

Thank you for reading this. We hope you enjoyed it and it gave you "food for thought". ENJOY IN GOOD HEALTH!!

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American Elderberry (Sambucus Nigra Canadensis)

Also frequently called Blue Elderberry. This variety is found wild in abundance in many areas, including N Central Idaho where we are located. It is by far the most Wild Harvested Elderberry in the region. It is very popular used in Syrups and other preserves. It is sometimes dried for teas also

Black Elderberry (Sambucus Nigra)

This variety is also known as European Elderberry. Black Elderberries are extremely rare in the wild in this region. In fact, there are only two areas we have found that they grow in large quantities. No, I won't tell you where;). Black Elderberries are the most common used in "Nutraceuticals" (I love that word). Why? Read on for more information.

There are other varieties of Elderberry as well, but I'm going to limit my writing to these. REMEMBER, NO ELDERBERRIES SHOULD EVER BE EATEN RAW AND KNOW WHAT YOU ARE PICKING!!!!!

AMERICAN ELDERBERRY (Sambucus Nigra Canadensis)

As you can clearly see, this variety is plentiful in the wild. The berry clusters can appear MASSIVE. However, once cleaned that giant bunch o' berries you see the berrymeister (me) holding probably ultimately yielded about a pound of berries after cleaning. That's enough Elderberries to make roughly a pint of high quality and content Elderberry Syrup. This cluster of berries is far from the norm, hence the photo. It was however, so impressive that I hacked my way through about 20' of Blackberry brambles to get to it. Ironically, these were the only berries growing on a very small, spindly tree.

Since the American Elderberry is the most common found in the wild around here, it stands to reason that this subspecies is the one most commonly used in locally sold Elderberry products. Believe me, there are plenty to be found. I see them on FB marketplace, farmers markets, small stores, they're everywhere this time of year. I will write more on the proliferation of this stuff later in this blog under "Are All Elderberry Products Created Equally".

Most varieties of Elderberry contain similar compounds that make them "Superfoods" to some degree. However, different subspecies contain different levels of each compound. Also, most of the truly scientific studies done on Health benefits of Elderberries, are done outside of the USA, so in most of the studies you will see "Black Elderberries" specified.

For more on the FDA and the lack of support for this lowly berry with amazing potential, see my previous blogs.

In general, Elderberries contain very high levels of vitamins A,B, and C. They also are high in minerals like Potassium, Iron, Copper, and Phosphorous. But the big benefits in the realms of Antioxidants, Anti-inflammatory, and possible Anti-Viral properties (not approved by the FDA for this one) are to be found in the Phytochemical, Anthrocyandin, and Polyphenol content. Additionally, Elderberries are likely good for heart health, digestive health, respiratory health...the list goes on. Check this out

While most studies have been done on Black Elderberry compounds, some of the information available indicates that American Elderberries may actually contain more of some of these elements. In my next paragraph, I will link to some studies on Black Elderberries. Either way, we are fortunate to be able to use a blend of Black Elderberries and American Elderberries, both Wild Harvested right here in our area.


While the American Elderberry is the variety most common in the wild in N Central Idaho, the Black Elderberry is also available if you know where to look and are highly adventurous. We find them in smaller numbers in very specific locations at a very specific time of year. Unlike their American Cousins which have a harvest window of around two months, these beauties require constant, monitoring only allowing a couple of weeks between ripeness and falling off the bush. This variety seems to be a smaller "bush" rather than a more typical tree. Also, notice the brightly colored red vine, which is a telltale sign of black vs blue berries. American Elderberries will look to be the same color before they are ripe, but will not have a red vine.

As stated earlier, most studies done on Elderberries and their health benefits are done using Black Elderberries, and outside the USA. Perhaps other countries care more about their citizens health and less about profits? I digress LOL. Once again, I wrote about the FDA in an earlier blog and this one is all about Berries. Here's an interesting article that appears to be scientific in nature that specifies Black Elderberries. It also specifies "Commercially Grown" which I have thoughts on. More on that in ARE ALL ELDERBERRY PRODUCTS CREATED EQUALLY.

This particular study comes from the University of Sydney and quite specifically states that "It inhibits the early stages of an infection by blocking key viral proteins responsible for both the viral attachment and entry into the host cells". In short, I read this as saying it may not keep you from getting sick, but it may keep you from getting really sick. To phrase it another way it may "Reduce Viral Load". Sound familiar? This study was conducted before the current Covid outbreak, but seems to suggest that Elderberry Syrup, at least Black Elderberry Syrup as used in the study, may in fact work much the same as current Covid strategies including masks, and vaccinations. It also refers to Phytochemicals which give the Elderberry it's distinct color. In general the darker the color of the berry, the higher the concentration of Anthocyandin compounds. These Black Elderberry specific studies are the reason we go to the lengths we do to harvest the elusive Wild Black Elderberry and combine them with the American Elderberry. Clearly both have health benefits, but is one better than the other? Until we know more, we will continue to "hedge our bets" and use both.


No, no way, not even close, nay I say. Pictured at the right is a 10 oz bottle of Bitterroot Botanicals of Idaho Wild Crafted Elderberry Syrup. Unfortunately at the time the photo was taken, only fresh American Elderberries were available. The Black Elderberries were long gone. If you take the time to go back to an earlier blog entitled "How to get more bang for your buck with Elderberry products" you will find some information on the actual Elderberry content of some popular products. Most of the products referenced in that post have undergone the same arduous testing, licensing, approval. bureaucratic BS that we have gone through. However, most of those products rely heavily on commercially grown Elderberries. We all know what effect commercial farming has on soils, and therefore nutritional content and value of the food products manufactured. I even found some sellers on Amazon touting "Wild Crafted" that specifically stated their berries were picked in Europe. And Organic? Please tell me you know that this term has been usurped by big agricultural companies that have zero interest in anything beyond profits. Many of these companies are HUGE corporations that recognize that the cost of sugars, corn syrup, and fillers are way less than the cost of Elderberries whether, conventional or Organic. LET THE BUYER BEWARE.

Since Elderberries are in season locally, everybody's cousin makes and sells Elderberry Gummies, Elderberry Syrup, Elderberry Tonic, Elderberry Moonshine (I made you read that one twice LOL). For crying out loud, even my cousins cousin makes Syrup. I know for a fact that most of these folks are making the products under "Cottage Industry Foods" regulations. This is basically no regulations unless you make someone sick. There are no standardized ingredients or processes required, no licensing, no commercial kitchen, no product testing. Pretty much you can make what you want out of whatever, call it what you want, and sell it within the state. Now, I'm all for small, independent business. I'm certainly not opposed to anyone trying to make a few bucks however you can. But...LET THE BUYER BEWARE. I've seen these products listed with Apple or Grape Juice as the primary ingredient. In the case of DIY Elderberry Syrup kits, I look at them and say "where's the berries?". The companies, such as Bitterroot Botanicals of Idaho are held to a much higher standard, and as such deliver a more consistent, safer product that is manufactured under rules and regulations designed for the safety of the consumer. There appears to be a fine line between a legitimate, family owned small business, and Cottage Industry Foods producers, but in reality, it's not that fine.


Yup, I'm in bidness, and I want you to buy my Syrup LOL. How, you might ask, can I have the opportunity to give this gentleman and his family my financial support by purchasing his clearly vastly superior product? Well, I'm glad you asked;) If you know me personally, of course you can call me. Our Syrup products are available on our website. We also sell on Amazon Dang, I didn't realize it would be that long until I pasted it. You can just enter B09GCQ6BWP for the 20 oz bottle, B09GNP622K for the 30 oz bottle, B09HP5S25C for the 10 oz bottle. Enter these numbers in the Amazon search bar, and it will take you directly to our product. Since we are a new Amazon store, we have a sale on temporarily at that site only. We also occasionally advertise on some of the more local FB marketplace sites.

I would like to thank Lisa for inspiring me to once again, sit at my desk for hours doing research for useful links and writing this piece.

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As I look at Facebook posts from friends in Northern and Central California and Southern Oregon, and talk to friends in the Seattle area, I'm struck with EXTREME gardeners envy. Most of these folks have much, if not all, of their gardens planted. I will say however, that the envy stops at gardening 'cuz I live in a beautiful place and have much gratitude for the gifts of nature that I find myself and my family surrounded by!!!

If you look at the USDA hardiness map by zip code, I would be generally found in zone 6B. However, the post office is at roughly 1300' elevation along the river, and my house is at over 3000' in a mountainous area known as a "snow belt" where temperatures are still regularly below freezing in late April. This elevation and climate difference puts us solidly in USDA zone 4 based on average minimum temperatures. Even a trip to "town" for a visit to the local grocery or hardware store invokes a bit of climate envy seeing everything in full bloom while we still barely have buds on our trees (see photo below) Having moved here from a zone 7 region, we certainly have adjusted our gardening practices, and with much success. We have found that through careful plant selection, starting many of our crops inside, and listening to long time local gardeners, we can still grow the same crops we have always enjoyed, and in fact have had more success with some things ie; peppers, cantaloupe, strawberries, than we had in a more moderate climate.

An Elderberry tree in our garden 04/25. Barely any leaves

at this point. Notice the Bat House in the background awaiting

it's seasonal tenants.


Well, I'm glad I asked that question. The good part is that I've had more time to replace several raised bed gardens prior to growing season. About eight years ago, shortly after we moved here, I assembled quite a few raised bed garden kits we brought with us. The kits were from a company in Talent, OR that I shared a shop with. The company is called Natural Yards. They can be found at Unfortunately, the shop I shared with them was destroyed by the horrific wildfire that swept through that area last Summer/Fall. I encourage you to reach out to them, purchase their products, and help them to rebuild their business. The raised bed kits are great!!!! They are easy to assemble and with all of the choices they have, they are very versatile. The bed kits lasted very well. I had the kits of fir lumber rather than cedar, and they still lasted eight years without any wood treatment. Unfortunately, nothing of this world lasts forever, and they needed to be replaced.

Photo of original raised bed with new bed under construction in background.


I actually started working on this project in mid February since we had no snow on the ground. Within a few days of staking out and planning my replacements (phase 1), it started to snow and didn't quit for three weeks. The snow finally melted off the first week of April and I was able to continue. Once I had a lumber and hardware shopping list, I was able to call around looking for prices. OUCH!!!! I really thought I would have to shit can the whole project at this point. I was in need of 800 board feet of 2"x12" of lumber, 60' of 4'x4' posts, and miscellaneous hardware, concrete, wood treatment (more on that later), and a couple of weeks of good weather. This was for phase 1 which consisted of removing 180 sq feet of existing raised beds and replacing that portion with two "U" shaped raised beds, overall 16'x12' dimensions with 160 sq feet of growing space each. The best quote I got, just for the lumber, was over $1600. What was my response? FUGGEDABOUTIT. However, I am a fairly resourceful person, so I looked for options. Option one that I found was for the posts. I have a significant number of cedar posts, 8'-12' in length, and 6"-12" diameter that I salvaged when a local producer of power poles relocated. I could split these posts, cut them to length, and use a hand planer to create a flat, uniform surface to attach the lumber to. BOOM, first hurdle completed.

Still, I needed 800 board feet of 2"x12" boards and this represented the majority of the potential cost. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your involvement in the incident, a lumber truck loaded with 2"x10" boards crashed into a local river. Thankfully no one was seriously injured. Every local with a salmon rod and heavy line was out there casting and reeling in lumber. It was quite a site. I've been involved in "combat fishing" before, but chose to forego this experience as I have a salmon tag, and a steelhead tag, but alas, no red fir tag LOL. A local towing and salvage company bought the recovered lumber from the insurance company, at least what wasn't already snagged by locals, and moved it to their yard. I went to see them (great folks by the way but I'm not going to name them until after I get all the lumber I need), and even this salvaged lumber was quite expensive at $1000/1000 board feet instead of $1500. They did however have another option for me. They had demolished an old lumber sorting shed, built in the 1960's, and had the lumber from it stacked out past the wrecked green truck, at the end of the tin roofing fence, near the scrap iron pile, but before you get to the rolled rv. Typical wrecking yard directions. I found the pile, but was concerned about the heavy industrial coating it had on it. The boards seemed very sound, and were 2"x10"x20'. Bottom line, the price was right. I returned the next day with my makita hand planer, a generator to run it, and a trailer and an able bodied youngster (my son) to help load it if I decided to buy it. I ended up taking 1/16" off of the board to get through the heavy paint, which revealed absolutely beautiful wood underneath. Clearly this would be labor intensive, not to mention many ruined planer blades and a huge mess. Did I mention the price was right? So, we loaded up the boards. I actually made a mistake thinking the boards were 2"x12", when in reality they were 2"x10", but the wrecking yard owner is truly a stand up guy and agreed to let me pick up some more to equal the board footage I paid for. More on these great folks later when I feel comfortable naming them after I've gotten the rest of the lumber I need for phase 2.

This photo shows the lumber before and after planing the paint off. As you can see, beautiful lumber!!!


Labor intensive doesn't begin to describe just the lumber prep process. Never mind the post splitting, hole digging, cement mixing, layout, bed filling, soil prep etc. These photos were all taken in the midst of constructing the first bed. I will take more of the posts, layout, and building on the second bed and create another blog.

I figured out pretty quickly that unless I wanted to spend more time changing blades on my little hand planer than building gardens, I should carefully inspect the boards before I planed them. So, each board was carefully inspected, nails and embedded rocks removed, and taken down 1/16" on each side and one edge. The other edge had so many broken off nails that were not removable, that I chose to use a belt sander instead. I found that 1/16" depth was sufficient to remove 99.9% of the old paint without removal of excess wood, and still leave me with actual 2"x10" dimensions as opposed to "modern" dimensions of 1 3/4"x9 1/2" dimensions. I felt really good about the resulting surface and strength of the lumber.

After planing and cleaning off the boards, I felt the need to treat them and hopefully get a longer life. These boards had held up for 60 years plus with the old paint on them, but I'm not sure what they were painted with. I was pretty sure whatever they used to paint lumber sorting sheds with in 1960, was not something I wanted my food grown in. I did a lot of research looking for suitable treatments for wood used in raised bed vegetable gardens. It's shocking to me that people would still recommend a mixture of used motor oil and diesel!!! I focused on what was acceptable for organic gardens. After looking at such exotic products like pure tung oil, raw linseed oil, beeswax, and the like which require long periods for absorption and drying and are kinda unrealistic, I found Timber Pro UV internal wood stabilizer.

I actually found out about this product while doing research on a chicken coop project at This is a great source if you have chickens. Although it might not be perfectly organic, I'm very comfortable with it for my family's food. It's easy to apply, moderately priced, non toxic, and is a small family owned business based in the Northwest.

After treating the boards, they had a more "flat appearing" tone. It was interesting to cut into a couple of them and see the actual penetration into the lumber.


While writing this blog, the weather has changed from horrid (raining and cold) to nearly tolerable (sunny and chilly). I guess I will close this out and get back to work planing my boards. The important part of this project for me is the use of many materials I had laying around (cedar posts), and the repurposing of the old lumber, saving money and valuable resources (timber).

Before I leave though, I want to continue briefly with some shout outs to other Southern Oregon friends I recently reconnected with. Jeff Vinyard realtor extraordinaire stopped in to visit me last week. If you have any real estate needs in the Applegate or Rogue Valley you can find him at Some day, with uncle Jeffy's permission, I might share an amusing story of how we met. Great guy, very knowledgeable about rural real estate and specifically Southern Oregon. Speaking of great guys, Thank you Rick Sultan for the great beanies, shirts, and stickers.

If you are at all interested in old Dodge Power Wagons, specifically military, Rick has a wealth of information as well as some cool stuff for sale. "Peace Love and Power Wagons" Rick. Sorry folks, no segue into these mentions, but both these guys have been on my mind lately.

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