Sunday, January 19, 2014

Elderberry Jelly, Chutney & Syrup

Elderberry Blossoms, look for these in June!
The Elderberry plant is amazing.  Not only does it make excellent jelly but it has been used as medicine to fight colds, flues and even cancer.  The first time I picked Elderberries I was hesitant to use them.  When they are raw, they do not smell pleasant.  I could not understand why people loved them.  Plus, it was difficult to pull the tiny berries from their stems.  I originally tried the fork method to comb them off but it took forever.  Fortunately, I discovered that the flavor is much better when cooked and there is an art form to de-stemming these berries.  Also, once you have discovered a large patch of them, you can use the blooms in recipes in June without feeling guilty that you lost out on the berries in August!

Elderberries, look for these the second week in August through the first week in September.

Would you like to know the secret to removing the berries from the stems?  It requires a large bucket and about 30 seconds of your time!  You cut the branch of berries from the tree and while holding the base of the branch, you beat it back and forth on the sides of the bucket.  Any berries that are not ripe should still remain on the branch while the ripe ones fall off into the bucket.  You may still have to pluck a few unripe ones out of the bucket along with some twigs, but it is so much easier!  Do not use the green berries, they are not good for you (poisonous). Here is a short video on how to do it:

To make Elderberry Jelly you can use either liquid pectin or if you have a Crab Apple tree available, you can make Elderberry Crab Apple Jelly which does not need pectin added.

Elderberry Crab Apple Jelly

Elderberry Crab Apple Jelly on Kudzu Bread


Plastic bag of Crab Apples
Plastic bag of Elderberries on the stem
2 T Lemon Juice


Clean the crab apples by removing the stem and the flower at the other end. If you let them sit on your counter for at least a day, the stems dry out and are easier to just pull off. If you get a stubborn one, when you cut the apple in half and it comes right out. You can also scrape the end flower bud off easily with your finger nail. (Just fyi, this can be done while hanging out with the kids watching television!)

Remove any blemishes on the apples and cut in half. As you cut in half, put the halves into a bowl of water and lemon to prevent turning brown.

Wash thoroughly the elderberries while still on the stem.  De-stem following the instructions above.

Drain your bowl of crab apples and put in a large pot. Add the Elderberries. Fill pot with water to just above the apples and berries.

Bring to a boil and reduce temperature to simmer. Cook until apples a mushy (about 30 to 45 minutes). Using a potato masher or spoon, lightly mash the apples and berries to help release the pectin and juice.

Start your canner and water to boil. Mine takes about an hour to get to a boil so now is a good time to turn it on.

At this point, you can drain your mixture using a jelly bag over night, however, I am too impatient for that. Start with a spaghetti strainer and strain the large part parts out of your mixture. Add the leftover mush to your compost. Then move to a fine mesh strainer and strain juice twice. Finally, put coffee filters into your spaghetti strainer and then strain the juice or you can use a clean pillow case which also works well (designate a cooking one as it will stain). This takes about 10 minutes which is much easier than waiting overnight and works just as well.

Measure your juice. For every cup of juice, add a cup of sugar (or 3/4 cup if you prefer less sweet). Add two tablespoons of lemon juice. Bring to a boil, stir often.  Boil until the mixture reaches 210°F on a candy thermometer, or until a small amount placed on a plate that has chilled in the freezer turns to gel. It should wrinkle on the surface and leave a trail if you run your finger through it. This should take about 20 minutes.
Fill your jars with the hot liquid and boil in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Elderberry Jelly


3 c Elderberry juice
1/2 c lemon juice
7 c sugar
2 pouches liquid pectin


Combine juices and sugar.  Bring to a rolling boil.  Stir in pectin.  Boil for 1 minute more.  Remove from heat, skim and fill jars with hot liquid.

Water bath for 10 minutes.

Elderberry Chutney


1 lb Elderberries washed and stems removed
1 lb apples, peeled and chopped
4 oz dried fruit (such as raisins, pineapple, or cranberries)
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1 t salt
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves
pinch pepper
2 cups vinegar, divided
1 1/2 cups brown suga


Add Elderberries, apples, dried fruit, and onions to a stock pot.  Stir in spices and 1 cup vinegar.  Simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.

Add sugar and remaining vinegar and bring to a boil.  Boil until thick (30-40 minutes).

Water bath for 15 minutes.

Elderberry Cold and Cough Syrup


1 cup Elderberries
3 1/2  cups water
2 T grated fresh ginger root
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground cloves
1 1/2 cups honey


Bring the Elderberries, water and spices to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and strain out solids.  Allow to cool and mix in honey.  Place in airtight container or jar and refrigerate.  For the flu/cold, take 1 t every three hours for anyone over one.  To prevent cold/flu and improve your immune system, take 1 t daily.

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