When my sister Mary sent me photos of a breakfast she made recently I was flooded with warm childhood memories. It was a breakfast my grandmother used to make for us - sourdough pancakes (she called them hotcakes) with elderberry syrup. It was on those Saturday mornings my siblings and I would be helping mom around the house with chores.
“Grandma is making breakfast!” Someone would declare.
“It’s your turn Samantha!”
Eager to break from my domestic duties I would rush out the door, skipping along the worn pathway to Grandma’s tiny trailer. The smell of crispy sourdough edges cooking on a cast iron skillet beckoned me closer, until I was at Grandma’s little table. We had to take turns dining because there was only enough room for one person at a time to join Grandma on either side of her little table. Grandma’s hotcakes however, were anything but little. A reflection of her big beautiful heart, each one filled a full size dinner plate. One was always enough! Smothered in butter and oozing with the delightful tanginess of her homemade elderberry syrup, I wished I could stay there for hours soaking in my one-on-one time with Grandma.
I would leave with both my tummy and heart full, promising Grandma to tell one of my other siblings it was their turn.
Pacific Red Elderberries
Do not eat these beauties straight from the branch! They are only edible cooked with the seeds removed. But don't let that deter you from harvesting. Elderberries are full of antioxidants, vitamins A and C, dietary fiber and have been used medicinally since time immemorial to treat numerous ailments. Their botanical name Sambucus racemosa may sound familiar to you - it has been created into supplements to prevent the coronavirus.
Mature elderberries begin to ripen late summer or fall. They can be found growing in Alaska's Interior, Southwest, Southcentral, and Southeast Alaska growing in clusters. The easiest way to pick them is by snapping the stem at the base of the branch.