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Elderberry Capers

VegetarianVeganDairy FreeGluten Free

These pickled unripe berries can be used in the same way as regular capers. They make an excellent, tart addition to all kinds of sauces and are especially good with seafood. Try using them in our wild garlic salsa verde.

Makes : 1 × 200ml jar
Prep : 30 minutes, plus 3 days steeping and 3 weeks to mature
Cook :
  • 100g unripe elderberries, picked from the stalks
  • 20g sea salt
  • 100ml cider vinegar (white wine or other vinegars will also work)
  • 20g granulated sugar


  1. Separate the berries from the stalks and wash them to get rid of unwanted detritus or insects.
  2. Mix the salt with 100ml warm water in a bowl. Stir until the salt is dissolved, then add the berries.
  3. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave to stand in a cool place for 3 days. During this time the berries should change colour from bright green to khaki.
  4. After the 3 days, drain the berries in a sieve, and discard the brine. If you’d prefer your berries to be less salty, rinse them. Pack the drained berries into a sterilised 200ml preserving jar.
  5. Put the vinegar into a saucepan and add the sugar. Set the pan over a medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer the vinegar for two minutes, then tip it over the berries in the preserving jar. It will be very hot so be careful – and be sure to use a proper pickling jar. Leave to cool with the lid off, then seal the jar and leave for 3 weeks before eating.


Pick the elderberries when they are bright green and plump.


Recipe by Wild Food UK; development and photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK


5 comments for Elderberry Capers

  1. Beth Ellen Salwaechter says:

    Are you not afraid of poisoning with the berries?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      It would take a very large amount of berry consumption to cause any problems and the fact that hot vinegar is poured onto them will destroy any harmful glycosides.

  2. Thomas Jackson says:

    Does it matter if a tiny (i.e >2mm) of bud stalk remains attached? Or is that so poisonous it doesn’t denature during the hot vinegar process?

    1. Simon Daley says:

      A tiny bit of stalk won’t matter, the pickling will deal with the toxins.

  3. Wanda Vegel says:

    why would you not place the lid immediately after hot vinegar is poured?

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