eat and drink local

Eat & Drink Local: Cooking & Cocktailing with NC Elderberries

There is no question that elderberries are a good-for-you food.  These tiny berries are packed with minerals like iron and potassium; vitamins A, B and C; and are high in dietary fiber, as well. No wonder they call it a superfood.

elderberriesThis “superfruit” will certainly aim to cure what ails you. While I can’t make any medical claims, I can say that research shows that elderberries are loaded with antioxidants and are known for helping to boost our immune systems.

For me, one of the delights to report in this post is that this longtime superfruit is also locally-grown and and the Elderberry products featured here are produced North Carolina!

NF_logo_FINAL_zeusnewNorm’s Farms, a family farm in Pittsboro NC, is owned by Rodger, Ann and Erin Lenhardt.  The farm is named for Rodger’s dad Norm, a man with a vision of why farm to table and eating local are important to local communities; and an long-time advocate of farm preservation, city planning and  wildlife protection. Norm’s home base and original farm was in Hartsburg MO and was the inspiration for his son Rodger’s North Carolina-based business, named in his dad’s Honor.

In Pittsboro, the naturally-grown tiny elderberries are harvested  by hand  in the morning, destemmed and cleaned with pure water and frozen before 5 pm each day to lock in the flavor and amazing health benefits of these antioxidant-packed little berries. 

ElderberriesYou’ll hardly ever see fresh elderberries for sale at grocery stores or farmer’s markets. One of the reasons is that they are very perishable – the other reason is that they must be properly deseeded or cooked before you enjoy their flavor and health benefits.

To that end, the best way to enjoy local elderberries is by eating the line of Elderberry products produced by North Carolina’s own Norm’s Farms.

Want to grow your own or perhaps you are looking for a cool gift for someone who loves to garden?

Young elderberry cuttings from Norm’s Farms might be the holiday or birthday gift you are looking for!  You can order them on the Norm’s Farm website. Rodger and his family and team will be harvesting and shipping cuttings after the first of the year, which gives you plenty of time to prepare the garden bed for planting.

Where to buy

In Charlotte some of the Norm’s Farms products, including the jams and jellies and the Wellness formulas, are available at Whole Foods, some Fresh Market locations, at Berrybrook Farm in Dilworth, at the SouthPark location of Earthfare, and at Orrman’s Cheese Shop at 7th Street Station Uptown, who reports that they just can’t get enough of Norm’s Elderberry Pecan Jam!!

The Norm’s Farms jams and jellies are a delicious condiment on your next cheese tray or on a PB&J, but I’ve used them here along with the Wellness Syrup laced with cinnamon and cloves, two spices also high in antioxidants, and the award-winning Ginger Elderberry Syrup in a cocktail and a main course.

It was my pleasure to share a word about these wonderful products and a recipe for a main course dish with several variations on the theme, as well as creative craft cocktail, on a recent airing of WCNC’s Charlotte Today. In case you missed it, you’ll find the link to the video at the bottom of this post after the recipe section.

Recipes to Eat and Drink Local with Norm’s Farms Elderberry Jams, Jellies and Syrups

Cooking & Cocktailing with Norm's Farms ElderberriesMy Elderberry Brown Butter Sauce is delicious with seafood or chicken. I suggest starting with fillet of salmon – enough for 4 servings or about 1 ¼ lbs. of skinless fillet – cut into portioned pieces

Sprinkle seafood on both sides with salt and pepper. Sauté in olive oil about 10 minutes per inch of thickness.

For chicken, butterfly two large organic boneless chicken breasts, so that you have four pieces. Season one side of each piece with salt and pepper and place seasoned side down in a pan with about a tablespoon of butter or olive oil. Season the side that is up in the pan and cook over medium to high heat for 4-5 minutes a side.

You may make the brown butter sauce in a separate pan while the seafood or chicken is cooking but, for the very best flavor, I would cook the fish or chicken first, set it aside once it is done, then make the sauce in the same pan.

Heidi Billotto’s Norm’s Farms Elderberry Brown Butter Sauce

Heidi's Elderberry Brown Butter Sauce for Chicken or Fish1 stick butter

4 Tbsp. Norm’s Farms Elderberry jelly

1 Tbsp. Norm’s Farms Elderberry Wellness formula

1 Tbsp. your favorite whole grain mustard

3-4 Tbsp. drained capers

salt and pepper

Chopped local or organic diced tomatoes, drained (optional) OR fresh blueberries, pomegranate and orange zest for your garnish.

Simmer butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until deep golden brown, swirling pan occasionally, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Use a flat pan whisk to blend in the Elderberry Jelly, the Elderberry Wellness Formula and the mustard. Add capers. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Keep on low heat to keep warm.  If you would like, stir in the drained, diced tomatoes and toss into sauce.  Spoon over fish or chicken and serve. Optionally, omit the tomatoes, spoon the sauce over the chicken or fish, then garnish with other superfruits like fresh blueberries and fresh pomegranate seeds and a bit of orange zest for color.

Heidi Billotto’s Elderberry Ginger Jam Martini

2-3 springs of fresh mint

2 oz. Norm’s Farms Elderberry Ginger syrup

1 oz. Norm’s Farms Elderberry Wellness Formula

2 ounces your favorite NC vodka (we used TOPO Vodka from Chapel Hill NC)

1 Tbsp. Norm’s Farms Elderberry Jam

One large ice ball per cocktail (see my craft cocktail tip that follows the recipe)

Club soda

Fresh sprigs of mint for garnish

Heidi's Elderberry Ginger Jam MartiniIn a cocktail shaker (or a Mason jar with a tight fitting lid), begin by muddling the mint leaves to bring out their flavor.  Add the Elderberry ginger syrup, the Elderberry Wellness formula, the vodka and Elderberry Jam with several cubes of ice.

Put the lid on the shaker and shake vigorously, then shake some more to thoroughly blend and chill!

Strain the cocktail into a glass over ice. Top with a splash of club soda and garnish with a sprig of mint and a slice of candied ginger and enjoy!

Looking for a cool ice cube to chill, but not dilute, your cocktail? Use my favorite ice cube mold and, instead of just using water to make your ice cubes, give them the blush of Elderberries by melting 2 Tablespoons of Norm’s Farm Elderberry Jelly in warm water until dissolved, or mix 2 Tablespoons of Norm’s Farms Elderberry Wellness Syrup in 2 cups of water and use that water to make your ice. Pour the flavored water into this cool mold for extra large cocktail ice; freeze over night, sip and say cheers!


In case you missed it here is the link to the video segment from Dec 6, 2017 as first seen on WCNC’s Charlotte Today with hosts Coleen Odegaard and Eugene Robinson.  Just click here and the segment will pop up on your screen.

With Thanks for this Sponsored Post

2017-heidibillottofood-partnered-post-logoMany thanks go out to Rodger and Ann Lenhardt at Norm’s Farms and their team for partnering with me on this post, so that I might better spread the word of Eating Local. If you’d like to read more about elderberries and all the healthy benefits or are looking for more delicious sweet, savory and cocktail recipes,  Norm’s Farms has a wonderful blog on their website – one definitely worth reading.  Like all the local products I write about on these digital pages, Norm’s Farms is a brand I believe in and I am delighted to tell their story.


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