Once you’ve found, identified, and picked all those elderberries, what do you do with them?
Make elderberry jelly and syrup!
Maybe I’m a rogue jelly maker, but I really don’t like it when the recipe starts with “you’ll need 6-8 pounds of fruit”.
Because, honestly, it’s going to vary quite a lot how much fruit/juice you actually get out of that amount of fruit.
Since elderberries have about the same acidity as blackberries, I worked with a blackberry recipe. My first batch was a perfect syrup. Which I figured it probably would be. The second batch was slightly-too-gelled jelly. The rest of the batches turned out just perfectly.
So I’ll share my recipes for elderberry jelly and syrup with you. Then you won’t have to use the trial and error method like I did.
Before you make either jelly or syrup, you’ll need to juice your elderberries.
Juicing Your Elderberries
- Gently tease your elderberries from the stem, removing all green berries, stems, sticks, and other debris as you go.
- Fill the bowl containing the elderberries with water by allowing the water to hit the side of the bowl, until the elderberries are cover by at least an inch or two of water.
- Gently rake your hand through the bowl. More stems, green berries, and other debris will rise to the top. Using a sieve it is easy to then rake the debris off the top and dispose of it. Be thorough.
- Scoop up handfuls of elderberries, allowing them to drain, and place them in a saucepan. Turn the heat on low until the elderberries begin to break down and there is juice covering the bottom. Then turn it up to medium heat.
- Use a potato masher to crush the berries to release as much juice as possible.
- Bring the elderberries to a simmer, and simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare a jelly bag or kitchen muslin over a metal, glass, or ceramic container. (Something that can handle the heat). (affiliate links)
- Remove the berries from heat and either pour the berries into the jelly bag, or scoop them out of the pan and into the bag. Most of the juice will drip through within 20 minutes. You’ll get a bit more over the next 2 to 3 hours.
- Either process the juice immediately (as-is, or by turning it into syrup or jelly), or refrigerate it.
Note: You don’t need a fancy jelly bag setup. Even if you just have a clean kitchen towel, you can tie knots in the corners and hang it from a cupboard knob with a bowl underneath. Don’t let it stop you from making your own jelly! 🙂
- 3 cups elderberry juice
- ¾ cup pectin (jelly) or ½ cup pectin (syrup)
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 3¼ cups organic cane sugar
- ¼ tsp. butter
- Note: Do not double or triple this recipe, otherwise it may take the mixture too long to heat up, exposing the pectin to too much heat for too long and causing it to break down. It would be better to make 2 or 3 single batches.
- You'll need approximately 3 pounds of elderberries for 3 cups of juice.
- Once you've juiced your elderberries, measure out 3 cups of elderberry juice and pour it into a 6-quart (or larger) saucepan. Add the pectin and lemon juice, mixing in well, and bring to a simmer.
- Immediately add the sugar and butter, and bring to a boil. Watch the pot carefully. It will bubble up quickly. Reduce heat and simmer for two minutes. (The butter helps prevent foam from forming on top.)
- Immediately remove from heat and pour into sterilized jars. Clean the rims with a damp paper towel, and cover with sterilized lids. Tighten down with rings (but don't wrench them as tight as you can).
- Place the jars in a water-boiler canner, and make sure there's ½-inch to an inch of water over the top of each jar. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes (from 0 - 1000 ft elevation), 15 minutes (1,001 - 6,000 ft elevation), or 20 minutes (6,000+ ft elevation).
- (For directions on juicing your elderberries, go to http://www.thebestgardening.com/elderberry-jelly-and-syrup/)