How to Rehydrate Elderberries

Make “Fresh” Elderberries or Elderberry Juice From Dried Elderberries

Get the Answer to How Much Do Rehydrated Elderberries Yield? (Berries and Juice)

We see plenty of articles and posts about using dried elderberries, and even plenty about how to dry or dehydrate elderberries. But what seems a lot harder to find are instructions for how to rehydrate elderberries.

Here are some simple instructions for rehydrating elderberries (based on instructions in recipes by Frontier Co-Op). You can use these instructions to “make” elderberries that are close to fresh from dried elderberries. This will give you a yield of plump, juicy berries that you can use in any elderberry recipes, and/or juice for elderberry syrup, jellies, jams, and more.

How Much Water and How Much Elderberry?

To rehydrate elderberries for recipes and juice you will use:

dried elderberries for rehydrating for recipes

Instructions for Rehydrating Elderberries:

There are two methods for rehydrating elderberries, a cold soak method and a hot soak method.

Cold Soak Method to Rehydrate Elderberries:

Pour 3/4 cup fresh cold water over 1/2 cup dried elderberries. Cover. Place in the refrigerator and let stand to soak overnight, or for about 8 to 12 hours.

Hot Soak Method to Rehydrate Elderberries:

Rehydrated elderberries on fork.
  • Place 1/2 cup dried elderberries in a heat-proof bowl, such as a stainless steel mixing bowl or Pyrex dish.
  • Carefully pour 3/4 cup boiling water over the dried elderberries.
  • Hold for a minimum of 15 minutes for water to be absorbed. Thirty to 45 minutes is better.
  • Let stand until berries are tender, close to normal fresh berry size, and much of the water is reabsorbed. All of the water will not be absorbed by the berries and this will be your “juice”.

Berry and Juice Yield from Rehydrated Dried Elderberries

How many cups of berries will you get from rehydrating elderberries? How much juice will one half cup of rehydrated elderberries yield?

You will find only a slight difference between rehydrating elderberries with the cold soak method and rehydrating elderberries with the hot soak method. The yield is slightly better with the cold soak method, but the difference is really negligible.

As the pictures show, your yield of berries versus elderberry juice will be:

  • 1 (scant) cup plumped elderberries
  • 2/3 (brimming) cup dark elderberry juice

This yield is similar to what you would get from thawing a cup of fresh-frozen elderberries and so it would be fair to say that this conversion would be appropriate for use in recipes calling for one cup of fresh elderberries.

Using Rehydrated Elderberries and Juice

To use the rehydrated elderberries in recipes calling for fresh berries, simply strain the juice from the berries and use the rehydrated berries in place of fresh. The juice can be used in elderberry syrup recipes or jam recipes by measure.

If you are looking to yield more juice for a recipe and do not need the plumped berries, mash and strain the elderberries to release more juice. If you are just straining the berries without mashing them, reserve them for use in another recipe (maybe make some elderberry muffins!). Store in the refrigerator but use within a few days.

What is the Best Way to Rehydrate Elderberries?

Is one method better for rehydrating elderberries? Should you use the hot soak method or the cold?

Soak dried elderberries for cooking.

As mentioned, the yield is not a lot different, so use whichever method fits best given your available time. If you have the time to plan ahead, though, the cold-soak method inches out the hot soak method and is preferable for a couple of reasons:

  • While the cold soak method is slower, it results in less nutrient and vitamin loss, and therefore preserves more of the natural goodness and nutrition of the elderberries.
  • The cold soak method results in slightly plumper berries, with slightly better water absorption.
  • It should be noted, and this is a very important point, that the heat-soak method with the boiling water essentially “cooks” or heat-treats the elderberries. It is not considered safe to consume raw elderberries. If you are not using the elderberries in a recipe that will be baked or cooked, then the heat-soak method is the way to go.
  • The potentially harmful compounds in elderberries are found in the bark, leaves, unripe berries, and seeds. Therefore, if you are removing all of the seeds and berries via straining anyway, it is not as important to cook or heat treat the berries.
  • Overall, if you have the time, go with the cold soak method, but keep these points in mind when choosing.

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