- Composition and bioactivity of Portuguese elderberry cultivars were studied.
- Sabugueiro, Sabugueira and Bastardeira cultivars were studied in three years.
- Harvesting year had a stronger effect on composition than cultivars.
- Bastardeira was richer in anthocyanins, total soluble solids and antioxidants.
- Sabugueiro was richer in total free sugars.
is one of the richest sources of anthocyanins and other polyphenols being used industrially as a source of antioxidants, colorants, and bioactives. Although cultivars can influence elderberry composition, no study has addressed the effect of harvesting year on elderberries composition and bioactivity. The composition of the main Portuguese cultivars, “Sabugueiro”, “Sabugueira” and “Bastardeira”, were evaluated during three consecutive years. Harvesting year had a stronger influence on the chemical composition than cultivars, including total sugars, anthocyanins, and phenolic compounds, being related to the different climatic conditions, especially water status. “Bastardeira” was the best cultivar concerning total soluble solids, anthocyanins, polyphenols, and antioxidant activity, but containing a lower total free sugar content compared to “Sabugueiro”. The results obtained in this study provide novel information from a nutritional perspective and for breeding programs aiming to select cultivars with enhanced levels of health-promoting compounds or for other industrial applications of elderberries.