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​Excellent Elderberry Jelly

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!

For more elderberry inspiration, check out this guest blog post by our foraging guru Christopher Robbins. Better yet, sign up for one of his outstanding foraging classes!

Making Elderberry Juice

  1. Starting with a carrier bag of elderberry heads, remove the heads from your carrier bag and place in a bowl of water for 20mins to allow joy-riding insects to float off!
  2. Pack elderberry heads gently into a large, lidded, casserole saucepan and add 1/2 teacup water to just cover the bottom of the pan.
  3. Place with lid on over a gentle heat and allow to simmer and steam. The steam ruptures the berries. After two minutes of gentle steaming, carefully turn the fruit bunches over in the pan and replace lid. After a further 10-15 mins turn again if necessary. The berries are ready when the volume of released juice rises nearly halfway up the side of the pan.
  4. Remove from the heat and gently press the berries/bunches down with the back of a sturdy potato masher or large wooden spoon. Place a colander over a large bowl and gently tip the juice and bunches from the pan into the colander. Allow to drain. This produces almost pure juice that is ready to use.

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.

Ingredients

  • 1 litre Elderberry juice
  • 1 kg preserving sugar (or white granulated sugar with ¼ bottle Certo pectin)
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Method

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!

Christopher Robbins 

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