A few weeks ago my husband went hunting. He didn’t get any meat this time, but he didn’t come home empty handed. He brought me elderberries. I had just bought some elderberry syrup and dried elderberry powder for more than I want him to know. Imagine my delight at having pounds of fresh elderberries in my kitchen. The first thing I made was syrup. It isn’t fancy or all that tasty really, but it is super good for you. I used the recipe from Mountain Rose except that I used fresh ginger. The first time I made it I used elderberry powder and it was fine, but using fresh elderberries was just better. It looked better, smelled better, tasted better. It wasn’t drastically different, just a little better. The next project was elderberry liqueurs. My husband got a recipe from the internet, but I used a recipe from a fabulous seventies era cookbook called Homemade Liqueurs by Donna and Mel Meilach. You might recognize Donna’s name from her other books like A Modern Approach to Basketry or Macrame: Creative Design in Knotting. I love reading vintage cookbooks and while I might not make a Pistachio-mint Pudding Parfait (included in the book), liqueur recipes don’t really change much over time. In a few months my husband and I will have a taste test. I’m pretty sure I’ll win. Maybe. He already strained his berries and added sugar, I’m leaving my elderberries to steep for a couple of months. Or until I find the jars again.
The last thing my husband requested was elderberry jelly. I make strawberry freezer jam every year, but I have never made jelly or processed jelly. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I cooked the berries to get the juice out, then I poured the berries into a piece of cheese cloth that I had folded several times. I tied the cloth up with twine and hung it from my cabinet pulls over a bowl and left it over night. Then I followed the directions on the Sure Jell site. I had to add a cup of grape and cranberry juice to make sure I had enough, but I couldn’t taste it in the final jelly. It really tastes good. I have found I am craving toast, biscuits, rolls, really anything I can put jelly on. (Is that a dangling participle?)
My husband has promised me that next year he will bring home baskets of elderberries. I’m already dreaming of elderberry gift baskets!
- 1 cup fresh or 1/2 cup dried or ¼ cup powdered organic Elder berries
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup raw local honey
- 1 organic Cinnamon stick, 3 organic Cloves, and ¼ inch piece of organic Ginger root (optional)
Place berries, water, and spices in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Smash the berries to release remaining juice and strain the mixture. Allow liquid to cool and stir in honey. Will last for 2-3 months stored in the fridge.