Elderberries are one of my favourite wild foods: abundant, easy to harvest, versatile, delicious, and beneficial! You can read more about their benefits in my recent blog post (https://www.pei-untamed.com/post/common-elderberry) but here are four of my go-to recipes.
However you use your Elderberries, the first step is to remove the berries from the stems and cook them (raw berries can cause intestinal upset). Pro tip: freeze everything overnight, and the berries will fall off the stems much more easily (Photo 1).
Put your Elderberries in a pot with about 25% of their volume in water (i.e. if you start with 8 cups of Elderberries, add 2 cups of water). Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for one hour mashing occasionally. Strain through cheesecloth; you should end up with 3-4 cups of juice for every 8 cups of berries. The juice is nice lightly sweetened on its own, added to carbonated water, or used in mixed drinks. Get creative and enjoy!
Start with 9 cups of Elderberries (about 16 cups packed berries on stems will give you 9 cups of berries). Place the berries in a large pot and add 2.5 cups of water. (If you are starting with a different volume of berries, add about 25% of their volume in water). Simmer for about an hour, mashing occasionally, and then strain through cheesecloth to give 4 cups of juice. From here, you can follow your favourite recipe for any low-pectin fruit. Add pectin and sugar as required and pour into sterilized bottles. This makes about 2 litres.
Place 8 cups of berries and 6 cups of water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Make a pouch out of some cheesecloth, add 2 cinnamon sticks, ½ tbsp whole cloves, and the zest of one orange (or whatever flavours you’d like to work with), and tie it up into a bundle. Toss the bundle into the pot and simmer for an hour or so, mashing things from time to time. Strain the liquid and add 2 cups of your sweetener of choice (honey or maple syrup are excellent, but sugar will work just fine). Heat until the sweetener is dissolved and pour into sterilized bottles. This makes about 1.5 litres.
Place 8 cups of berries and 3 cups of water in a large pot and simmer for an hour, mashing things from time to time. Strain to get 4 cups of juice. Make a pouch out of some cheesecloth and add 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 tbsp whole cloves, and 1 tbsp allspice (or whatever flavours you’d like to work with), and tie it up into a bundle. Return the juice to the pot, add 1 cup of sweetener and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, toss in the bundle and simmer for 30 minutes or so. Remove the bundle, cool the liquid, add 2 cups of brandy and pour into sterilized bottles. This makes about 1.5 litres and is decent right away but improves with a few months’ aging. Make it in September and break it out for the holiday season!