If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary you can’t go wrong with this Elderberry Pie recipe, especially if you have a neighbor with an elderberry bush in season! If you’re looking for a tasty elderberry recipe, using either fresh or dried elderberries, you can’t go wrong with this tasty pie.
If you love elderberry recipes, be sure to check out these elderberry muffins too!
It’s a dilemma. You’ve got a beautiful elderberry bush, just brimming with elderberries, but what do you do with them? Is there some elderberry dessert you can create with those berries? Or do you leave the berries on the bush for the birds to enjoy?
I recommend doing a little bit of both — leave some for the birds and pick some for you too!
If you’re wondering specifically what to do with elderberries, I recommend making a pie. More about that in a minute. First, let’s discuss the nutritional benefits of elderberries.
I wrote recently about the benefits of this special berry in my post, What Does an Elderberry Taste Like. When elderberries are in season, it’s good to have all the information about this unique berry.
Although the elderberry is small, my neighbor’s bush yielded a lot of berries; enough even for me to make a pie. The results were heavenly.
Benefits of Elderberries
Before I go on though, I do want to point out that the elderberry does have a somewhat unique flavor. It’s similar to a blueberry but with an earthy twist. There’s a certain zest to it that distinguishes it from other berries.
Being distinguished can be a good thing. Especially if you’re a berry in a pie.
Elderberries are known for the following nutritional elements:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
And that’s just to name a few!
Next, let’s talk about how to make this recipe for elderberry pie!
How to Make Elderberry Pie
For this recipe, I used my favorite vodka-infused Vegan Pie Crust. I wonder if the healthiness of the berries counteracts the not-so-healthy attributes of the pie crust?
Elderberry Pies are relatively easy to make and fun because they’re so unique. It begins with a crucial first step, preparing the berries.
Step One: Preparing the Elderberries
Finding fresh elderberries may be the toughest task in making this pie. Assuming you have a bush or farmer with elderberry bushes nearby, then you’re in luck. Otherwise, you may want to plant your own bush and wait for a harvest. We’ll discuss making this pie from dried elderberries too.
As enticing as fresh elderberries may be, do not eat them raw. The stems, green berries, and seeds in raw elderberries are toxic. We’ll be cooking them for this pie, which makes the seeds edible.
- Pick when Ripe — Wait until the elderberries are fully ripe before picking them. Elderberries are typically ripe between mid-August and mid-September.
- Elderberry Clusters — Elderberries grow in clusters. I find removing the cluster where it attaches to the stem to be the easiest way to pick elderberries. The cluster will snap off quite easily. Or you can take scissors to do this. Place the clusters in a basket or bag.
- Stripping the Berries — You can use a wide-tooth comb to strip the berries from the clusters, but I find it easiest to use my fingers. I hold the cluster over a bowl and gently feather my fingers beginning at the stem and moving toward the berries. It’s tricky because you need to press hard enough to remove the berries, but not so hard as to squish them.
- Cleaning the Berries — When you’re done you should be looking at a big bowl of elderberries. Next, you’ll want to pick out and discard any stem pieces (including the feathery looking pieces that attach to the berries) and any green berries. The stems and green berries are toxic.
Quick Fix Tip
You can also freeze elderberries still in their clusters. Frozen elderberries will pop off the cluster stems, making the process of berry stripping much easier!
Step Two: Make the Elderberry Filling
Elderberries are actually small berries. Much smaller than a blueberry. That’s why elderberry pie recipes require so many elderberries for the filling. The other troubling thing is that the berries are very juicy and don’t have much pectin which is a thickening agent.
Elderberries also have seeds inside them. Would those seeds distract the texture of the pie? Because we cook the filling, the seeds soften, which makes the seeds much more palatable. In addition, cooking the pie filling first is an important step to ensure that the seeds inside the berries are thoroughly cooked, eliminating toxins.
If you don’t have enough elderberries, you can add other berries, like blueberries or blackberries to the mix.
To make this filling, place berries and sugar in a saucepan. Then, you’ll mix some cornstarch with cold water and give that a stir.
Elderberries need a boost of sweetness which is why this recipe calls for a bit more sugar than other pie recipes.
Pour the cornstarch slurry in the saucepan with the berries. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until mixture thickens.
Then remove the pan from heat and stir in the chia seeds and lemon juice. Allow the filling to cool and thicken a little.
Step Three: Pour Filling into Pie Crust
After the berry filling has cooled a bit, spoon it into the prepared pie crust.
Here are some options for the top of your pie:
- Cookie Cutter Crust — Use a flower cookie cutter to cut pieces of pie dough. Place them over the filling of the unbaked pie. This adds tasty crust on top while still allowing the berries to show through.
- Lattice Crust — A lattice crust on top works great too. I share more about making lattices on my vegan apple pie recipe.
- Solid Top Crust — Roll out the second pie dough and place it over the top of the pie, cutting slits to allow for steam to vent. Crimp the edges of the top dough with the bottom to seal the two together.
- No Top Crust — You don’t have to do a top crust at all. The crust on the bottom is plenty and the flavor, texture, and color of the berries will be showcased in every bite.
Step Four: Bake the Pie
Bake the pie for approximately 45 minutes, until the crust is browned. You should put a pan underneath the pie to protect your oven from any overflow.
Add a pie shield as it bakes to prevent the edges of the pie from getting too browned.
Before baking you can add a vegan egg wash to the crust. I did not use a vegan egg wash for my pie and you’ll notice it browned beautifully.
Elderberry Pie with Dried Elderberries
We don’t all have an elderberry bush in the neighborhood so if you want an elderberry pie, you may consider using dried elderberries. I was skeptical this would work, but it turned out great! Here are the steps to do this:
- Soaking — Soak 3 1/2 cups dried elderberries in 4 cups of hot water for 30 minutes or more. You should notice the berries softening and plumping.
- Drain the Liquids — Drain the soaking liquid, reserving 1/4 cup for the next step.
- Filling — Use the soaked berries in place of the fresh berries in the elderberry filling, using the reserved soaking liquid in place of the water.
If you don’t have enough dried fruit to make an entire pie, you can always make hand pies or supplement the elderberries with some blueberries too. It’s great to know you can enjoy a tasty elderberry pie even if you don’t have a bush nearby!
What does elderberry pie taste like?
An elderberry pie filling tastes similar to any berry pie, except with some earthy tones in the mix. You can add depth of flavor and texture to an elderberry pie by combining it with other berries, like blueberries.
Can you eat raw elderberries?
While fresh elderberries looks nice and juicy, you should avoid eating uncooked elderberries. About 50% of the berries are seeds, which are toxic. However, once cooked the berries are safe to eat.
Is Elderberry Pie Healthy?
It is important to note that elderberries should be cooked before being eaten. Beyond that, worrying about your health when eating a slice of pie is like talking about diets on Thanksgiving Day; it distracts from the pleasure of the moment.
More Elderberry Recipes
I wish you all were in the neighborhood so I could share with you a slice of this elderberry pie! Of course, if you all came at once, I might have to make more…but it would be worth it!
That’s it for this elderberry pie recipe. Enjoy!
For the Pie Crust
- Prepare the pie crust according to the directions. When the dough balls are chillded, roll one of the dough balls out. Transfer it to the pie pan and refrigerate to chill.
For the Elderberry Pie
- Place berries and sugar in a saucepan. Mix the cornstarch with cold water and add it to pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and add the chia seeds and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Set aside to allow the mixture to thicken and cool a little more.
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- If you want a crust topping on the pie, roll out the second dough ball until it's about 1/4 inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out pieces of the dough to be placed on the top of the pie. A small flower cookie cutter works great. Or you can can do a lattice crust as well. See notes for a link with instructions on easy lattice tips.
- Pour the berry mixture into the pie crust. Add crust over the top in either lattice or cookie cutter form. Crimp the edges of the pie.
- Bake the pie for 40–45 minutes, until the crust is browned.
- Use oven mits to remove the pie from the oven. Set aside for it to cool for at least 2 hours. This cooling process helps the filling to firm up. Serve slices at room temperature or warm them slightly before serving. Top with some vegan ice cream for a nice touch!
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The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Update Notes: This recipe was originally published in 2012, but was re-posted to include new photos, recipe updates, and tips in 2020.