Right now elderberries are not only in season but they seem to have hit a boom year and I am not complaining! Currently I am making a really big amount of jellies, cordials and even cough syrup out of these almost black, vitamin packed pearls. They are quite easy to harvest and clean, and even easier to gather if you follow this guide to do it.
Certainly there are dozens of things you could make out of them but my favourite is jelly. Not only because I am a pancake lover but also because it goes nicely with a lot of dishes ranging from ice cream to bread spread and even as smoothie flavouring. A spoonful of this jelly every morning gives me my daily requirement of vitamin C along with other important nutrients like vitamin A, B and amino acids.
So here’s my step by step guide on how to make elderberry jelly. I don’t like to overly sweeten my food in general so give it a taste before you pour it into the jar and add more sugar if you feel like it. I know there are recipes that call for three times the amount that I used.
If you are making jelly for the first time and want to make sure you added enough pectin there is a little trick to test it instantly. Take a spoonful of the liquid and place it on a plate and transfer it to the freezer. It will cool down very quickly and will show you how your jelly will develop once it has cooled down. It will take less than 2 minutes. If it is too runny still then add more pectin and boil it for another round.
- 1kg (2 lb) elderberries
- 1 lemon, the juice of it
- 175g (1½ cup) sugar
- 25g (3½ tbsp) pure pectin or gelling agent of your prefference
- Pour the clean berries into a heavy bottom pot and turn the heat up to low, medium at max. Carefully stir and wait until the berries started releasing their juices. Once they start to look like they are melting away increase the heat just enough to get the berry mass bubbling. Simmer for about 10-20 minutes until all berries have broken down and become soft. Remove from heat.
- Place a large fine-mesh sieve or a nut milk bag (cheesecloth), over a pot. Slowly transfer the berries and juice over the sieve to strain the juice out into the pot. Let this strain for several hours, or even over night to make it easier. I am usually impatient and wait until they cooled down enough to touch and squeeze the juice out with force. It is a fabulous stress relief and a nice arm work out. At this point you will be left with about 500ml (2 cups) of pure elderberry juice.
- Add the pectin gradually to the juice and whisk until dissolved. Add the sugar and lemon and bring to a boil. It takes me 4 minutes of cooking with the type of pectin that I use to get the desired result. Yours might be different so follow the instructions on the package. In any case I would recommend to use pure pectin not the jam-making sugar, that way you have control over the sweetness since you add the sugar yourself.
- Once your jelly is done cooking take it off the heat and wait for about 5 minutes before pouring it into sterilized jars. I sterilize mine during the 5 minute wait by simply rinsing them with boiling water. Watch your fingers or use household gloves! Another method is to put them in the oven for a few minutes at 1o0ºC (200ºF).