As a kid, everyone had an uncle or boy scout leader who taught them the basics of wilderness survival—like how to tie a decent knot, how to tell the time using the sun, and which berries are safe to eat. Consider yourself a good man if you know how to do at least one of these things (our money’s on knot-tying). Elderberries are a no-go when it comes to eating raw in the woods. Consuming the stems or leaves will leave you with a severely upset stomach, and a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found juice made from the raw berries is poisonous as well. Elderberries contact glycosides that turn to cyanide once digested. The good news is that cooking breaks down these harmful compounds, so any jams, wines, or foods made with processed elderberry are safe to eat. Just save the bush-rummaging for the animals.
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