The elderberry season usually runs from September to mid-October, depending on local geography and weather. Best to find bushes carrying the dark berries in heads that are so heavy they hang down. Snap off the bunch where it joins the branch and gather about one supermarket carrier-bag of heads to make one litre of juice - the first stage of making excellent elderberry jelly!
Making Elderberry Juice
Making Elderberry Jelly
Great, now we're on our way to making an excellent jelly. If you wish, you can strain the juice through a jelly bag or double layer of muslin and leave to drain overnight into a bowl. I find the juice so deliciously dark and smooth after simply putting it through the colander and pouring through a kitchen sieve that I don't bother to filter further.
1. Add juice to a large saucepan. Place china plate in fridge to cool.
2. Add sugar and lemon juice to pan. Stir gently until dissolved then slowly increase heat until boiling gently.
3. Increase heat slowly, stirring frequently, until it boils with a rolling boil. Remove any ‘froth’ forming around the edges with a flat spoon.
4. Use a jam thermometer to test for setting point (1050C), or test for wrinkling surface of 1/3 teaspoon placed on cooled plate in fridge for 2-3 minutes. As soon as wrinkling occurs, remove pan from heat.
5. After resting the jelly for 10 mins, bottle into heated, sterilized jars. Apply lids. Do not move jars until absolutely cool or the jelly formation process may be broken. Label jars and look forward to months of jelly bliss!