Elderberry Jelly & Syrup

Once you’ve found, identified, and picked all those elderberries, what do you do with them?

Make elderberry jelly and syrup!

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 elderberries to make jelly and syrup

Our setup for juicing elderberries – I found that a #10 can fit perfectly under my jelly bag set, and then I didn’t get splashes because the sides of the can are so high. (Don’t keep the juice in the #10 can. You’ll need to move it to a different container once you’ve collected the juice.)

Juicing Your Elderberries

  1. Gently tease your elderberries from the stem, removing all green berries, stems, sticks, and other debris as you go.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Use a potato masher to crush the berries to release as much juice as possible.
  6. 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)
  7. 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.
  8. 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! 🙂

5.0 from 2 reviews
Elderberry Jelly & Syrup
Recipe type: Jellies/Syrups
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 pints
Found some elderberries in a nearby hedgerow? Turn it into elderberry jelly with this easy and delicious recipe.
  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. You'll need approximately 3 pounds of elderberries for 3 cups of juice.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.)
  5. 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).
  6. 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).
  7. (For directions on juicing your elderberries, go to http://www.thebestgardening.com/elderberry-jelly-and-syrup/)

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32 Responses to Elderberry Jelly & Syrup

  1. Linda Dean August 2, 2015 at 6:47 am #

    I made elderberry jelly last night I followed recipe, but it is more like a real thick syrup?

    • Anni August 12, 2015 at 6:54 pm #

      It could be one of a number of things.
      1. Sometimes it has to do with the type of pectin you use. If I switch the type of pectin I use, I always do a small batch and test whether it gels or not (by putting a small spoonful of it in the refrigerator). If it doesn’t gel well enough, I’ll add more pectin to the next batch.
      2. The pectin was exposed to too much heat for too long a period. The whole thing (elderberry juice, pectin, sugar, and lemon juice) has to be brought up to heat for a certain period of time, but not for too long. Too short or too long, and the gel won’t form properly.
      The nice thing about it is that if a batch is more of a syrup, it’s fabulous on pancakes or crepes, so no loss! 🙂

  2. Kat Martinez August 18, 2015 at 8:44 pm #

    Thanks Anni for your insight on Jelly and Syrup. I have been making elderberry jelly a few times over the last 10 yrs with Sure-gel with no problems. Well we just moved last November from 10 acres to 73. And 4 years ago was the last time I made Elderberry jelly , they was just to hard to find or I was busy canning something else. But low and behold this year at our new ranch I have harvested over 35# . Tonight I just bagged up 3 , 3 cup for the freezer and I have 5 cups left over, well I ran across your syrup recipe and I will add a little water to my left over juice and make 2 batches of syrup. I am kinda excited because we eat pancakes in the winter so it will be a great change. Keep me in mind next year if you need berries 🙂 Oh and ps, we have tons of black berries and goose berries too. I’m so beside myself hehehe.

    • Anni August 27, 2015 at 10:59 am #

      I’m so glad the recipe was helpful to you. 🙂 We love, love having all sorts of syrups and jams and jellies in the middle of winter too!

  3. Nikki June 29, 2016 at 11:05 am #

    I have a juicer and wondered if I could just juice the berries instead of the heating, draining process and then continue with step 3?

    • Tracy Greisen September 17, 2017 at 12:22 pm #

      Annie, can a juicer be used instead of heatin and draining process and then continue with step 3?

      • Anni September 23, 2017 at 8:50 pm #

        Yes! For sure! The paint is to just get the juice, without the seeds and other pulp. A lot of people don’t have a juicer, though, so I just wanted to show the simpler route for those who needed it. 🙂

  4. Erika August 25, 2016 at 1:59 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your process. A friend just handed me a 10 lb bag of elderberries last night and said to have fun. I’ve just spent the last 4 hours cleaning, removing stems, and sorting them. Whew!
    I have been scouring the web for a low sugar recipe for jam but have come up empty handed. I like texture so the seeds just give a welcome crunch. I see above that you just substituted using the blackberry recipe for your jelly. I am wondering if I could do that with the low-sugar pectin for jam. I picked up the low-sugar packet of sure-jell. Basically I am wondering if I could just go with the blackberry recipe that is included in the low-sugar packet of sure-jell to make my elderberry jam.
    Any thoughts, suggestions, or advice on that? Any feedback welcome–I’ve got these elderberries eager and at the ready! 🙂

    • Anni August 30, 2016 at 9:08 pm #

      Just a quick note – the seeds are poisonous, especially in large amounts, and shouldn’t be included in the jelly. Also, there’s a lot of them, so it would make your jelly very seedy anyway. It’s best to extract the juice and make jelly.
      This recipe is adjusted to make sure there’s proper acidity, and a proper formation of the jelly/syrup. It’s a lot like the blackberry jam recipe, but there are differences because it’s a different berry with different properties. Good luck!

  5. rosemarie perenic February 15, 2017 at 12:16 pm #

    i used a different type of pectin and now the elderberry jelly is very thick…do you think i can remake annd add more juice? i would like to try something

    • Anni March 1, 2017 at 11:19 am #

      I have heard of people rewarming the jelly (slowly and gently, often over a double-boiler) and adding some more juice. But it has to be remembered that heat will break down pectin, especially with higher heat and longer exposure. I’ve never tried doing that myself, so good luck, and let us know how it goes!

      • rosemarie perenic April 17, 2017 at 9:57 am #

        i did remake them and it turned out what i had left out was the lemon juice so all i needed to add was that and i did recook and it came out great!! ill be more careful from now on! i do wish there was an easier way to remove them from the stems tho….so long there.

        • Anni May 31, 2017 at 8:52 pm #

          Yes. They take SO long to remove from the stems. Thank goodness for 6-hour Pride and Prejudice… 😉

  6. Shirley March 1, 2017 at 11:13 am #

    I use a steam juicer. It is so much easier as there is no straining. Steam juicers are found with wine making supplies.

  7. Jone June 13, 2017 at 4:09 pm #

    I am making my second batch of Elderry jelly. I remove the berries using a HAIR PICK. Works wonders.

  8. Gene Brewster July 14, 2017 at 4:41 am #

    How about using Sure-Jell or Certo ?

  9. janet wilson July 31, 2017 at 4:21 pm #

    I have been using agaragar instead of suregel and it always turns out great. Has anyone else tried agar agar?

    • Anni September 23, 2017 at 9:03 pm #

      I have not. Anyone else?

  10. maryann mills August 22, 2017 at 8:24 am #

    I would like to know if you have tried steaming the elderberries in a juicer and then turning it into jelly? I have a steam juicer which I use for making grape juice and I am thinking this might work for the elderberries as well. Thank you

    • Anni September 23, 2017 at 9:01 pm #

      A steam juicer would work great. You just need to get the berry juice released. But I think it would still be best to separate the berries from the stems first. The stems and branches do contain some toxins and you want to be careful to have a safe product to eat.

  11. Jamie August 23, 2017 at 10:23 am #

    We have been making Elderberry Jelly for 15 years and made the first batch this season last night. It is very, very stiff. We are pondering some ideas to adjust the recipe a bit for the next batch. One idea was to reduce the amount of added pectin. Another was to add water or apple juice to the elderberry juice, but are concerned about compromising the flavor. We were told to use the less ripe berries as they contain lots pectin naturally. We do have a lot of red berries this time and I am suspicious we could do without any added pectin. Your thoughts please.

    • Anni September 23, 2017 at 9:00 pm #

      I had the same issue one time when several of the berries were not quite fully ripe. It was so stiff, you could cut it with a knife. So I did the same – I used less pectin and it turned out better in the next batch.

  12. Elise September 10, 2017 at 5:59 am #

    A steamer juicer pot is the only way to go

  13. Elise September 10, 2017 at 6:02 am #

    Don’t remove stems with steamer juicer. Wash whole head of berries and drop in the top basket. Steam juice and toss the remains in compost.

  14. Tracy Greisen September 21, 2017 at 9:52 am #

    Anni, Love the elderberry syrup recipe, I was amazed by the flavor and i am sure my other half is just as pleased. Thank You will be doing this again.

    • Anni September 23, 2017 at 8:49 pm #

      Oh good! Thanks for the feedback!

  15. Valerie September 25, 2017 at 1:34 pm #

    I throw my berries into the freezer. When I come back to them, they just shatter off the stems.

  16. Brenda September 25, 2017 at 6:14 pm #

    This is my 1st time making & eating elderberry jelly. I just finished the hot water bath with them. I’ll let everyone know how they turn out tomorrow. I’m so hoping all goes well since we drove 21/2 hrs one way to get them at a u-pick. I’ve heard amazing health benefits about elderberries. So excited…..Yet nervous. Just a quick question…..Should they be all jellied by morning? Thanks!

    • Anni January 28, 2018 at 5:18 pm #

      I usually try to make the jelly within 48 hours of picking them. The sooner you can get them off the branches and juiced, the better. Then the juice can sit in the fridge for a day or two if you can’t process it into jelly right away.

  17. danog November 9, 2017 at 4:45 pm #

    A dinner fork gently pulled through a cluster of elderberries removes the berries with only a few small attaching stems\branches which are inconsequential when berries are cooked, crushed, and strained to remove seeds. I can manage 10 pounds in 30 minutes using this method.

  18. T November 10, 2017 at 5:32 pm #

    Can you use dried elderberries?

    • Anni January 28, 2018 at 5:10 pm #

      No, it really wouldn’t work. 🙁 Best to just use them when they’re fresh.


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