These healthy, nut free elderberry no bake granola bars are so easy to make that they’ll show up in your lunch box every week. With soaked oatmeal, coconut oil, dried elderberries and honey these bars are homemade treat you and the kids will love!
To Dehydrate Elderberries
Be sure to only harvest completely ripe berries because unripe berries are toxic. You can grow your own elderberries or forage them if they grow wild in your area. It is important to use only HEAT-TREATED elderberries for this recipe.
- Wash ripe (only ripe) berries and pick off all the stems. Pull out any unripe berries as they can be detrimental to your health. Please visit this article on Elderberry Safety from The Healthy Home Economist.
- Alternatively, you can dehydrate elderberries you’ve used to make syrup or other recipes.
- Lay them out evenly on dehydrator sheets. Or, lay them out evenly onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, if you don’t have a dehydrator.
- Set the dehydrator to around 175F/79C. Or, set your oven as low as it will go.
- It can take 8 hours or more to dehydrate the berries completely in the dehydrator.
- The berries will look like tiny raisins when they’re done. Be sure to let them cool completely before you store them. I like to store my dried berries in quart sized canning jars. They should last up to a year, although we usually use ours up way before then.
To learn about a bit more about elderberry preservation, including how to dry them with only the sun, here are 3 Beginner Friendly Methods of Drying Elderberries from Drying All Foods.
Are Elderberries Poisonous?
The simple answer is, they can be. Elderberry seeds contain amygdalin which is a sugar molecule that can induce cyanide. This can lead to some stomach upset and, in large amounts, could make a child or someone with a weak immune system more ill. You’d probably get sick of eating them before that happened, though, because they’re super stringent – they make you pucker like a sour cherry!
Heat treating is the easiest way to render that potential inert. Chris from Joybilee Farms explains how that works in her article 3 Elderberry Myths:
“…processing elderberries degrades the cyanide compounds, which include Cyanidin-3-sambubioside and cyanidin-3-glucoside. These cyanide compounds are degraded by fermentation and by heat. Using dried berries in tea reduced the cyanide compounds by 80%. Processing them for jellies, jams, and syrup reduced these compounds by 96%. Cyanide will vaporize at 26C (78F), just above room temperature, so heat treating the berries, by boiling or making elderberry syrup or jelly, will render them harmless.”
The heat treatment the berries undergo in the dehydrator is well over 78F/26C.
However, if you’d like to bake these granola bars, we’ve included instructions for that.
Elderberry No Bake Granola Bars Recipe
You can use plain dehydrated elderberries in this recipe, or you can use the leftover cream-soaked elderberries from our fabulous elderberry torte.
—->>>Read our Flourless Elderberry Chocolate Torte Recipe<<<—-
The recipe calls for soaked oats and gives instructions on how to make them, but you can also use dry oats.
One last thing, this recipe is really so simple that you can have the kids help you make it. Your children can even help you forage the elderberries, with a little instruction. After the recipe, you can look for a short video with tips for making these no bake granola bars even easier!
Here’s a quick video tutorial for this recipe, and then the recipe is below. Let us know if you have any questions!
Elderberry No Bake Granola Bars
- 4 cups Oats, soaked or dry See notes for instructions on soaking oats for this recipe.
- 1/4 cup Honey
- 1/2 cup Coconut sugar
- 1/2 cup Coconut oil
- 1/2 cup Coconut butter
- 2 tsp. Vanilla
- 1 tsp. Sea salt
- 1 cup Elderberries, dried
- 1 cup Dark chocolate chips, optional
- Line a 9 x 11 glass dish with parchment paper.
- Mix oats, salt, elderberries and chocolate chips in one bowl.
- Melt the honey, coconut sugar, coconut oil, coconut butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir to prevent scorching. When melted, remove from heat and cool a few minutes. Stir in vanilla.
- Add melted mixture to oat mixture and mix very well.
- Turn the oat mixture into the dish and press down firmly until the mixture is even. Use a piece of parchment paper on top of the mixture to press evenly and prevent your hands from getting sticky. Continue to press until you're sure the mixture is very firmly in place. If it is loose, the bars will not hold together.
- Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. When done, remove parchment paper and cut granola bars with a pizza cutter. Individually wrap in parchment paper or beeswax wraps to keep from sticking.
- Store at room temperature for 3-5 days, or longer in the refrigerator.
- Place the oats in a bowl and cover them with water.
- Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or whey.
- Soak overnight on the counter.
- In the morning, rinse them thoroughly in a colander or sieve.
- Dry the soaked oats in the oven or dehydrator by following the same instructions you did for dehydrating elderberries. You can raise the temperature on the dehydrator to dry them more quickly. If you'd like to use the oven, preheat it to 350F/177C and toast the oats for about 8 minutes.
Grow and Use Your Own Elderberries
Elderberry bushes grow easily in most backyard gardens and wild in many areas in the U.S. The bushes produce a profusion of berries every year. While elderberry bushes can take up a substantial amount of space, the benefits they provide make them well worth it.
Learning to use elderberries and other wellness herbs is something everyone can do. Perhaps this is your year to plant some of your own! Even if you decide to purchase your elderberries, you can certainly learn to use them in your home with confidence. The Herbal Academy also has a basic herbalist course that they offer for free, if you’d like to get started.