The Holiday Season continues. Some gifts have already been shared and many are still to come. Here's a recipe for one of my favourites. I really love giving jams and jellies as gifts. I think it's because I feel like I'm covertly 'sneaking' herbs into friends - especially ones who won't take the less tasty (or down right gross) concoctions I come up with sometimes.
I truly love Elderberries and this is a great way to get them into folks. I use either the classic Black Elder (Sambucus nigra) or, from the interior, Blue Elder (S. cerulea)
2 stages to this process - Making the Juice & Jelling it UpThe Juice:If you have fresh, frozen berries...
- about 3 lbs of fresh elderberries
- take good berries off stem - compost stems and crushed/rotten berries
- place in saucepan and bring to boil - you'll see the juice starting to flow
- reduce heat, cover and simmer about 15 minutes - stir occasionally
- strain through a jelly bag, some muslin or 3-4 layers of cheesecloth into another pot or bowl
- leave until it stops dripping - squeeze a bit more juice out *
*some folks like a clear looking jelly. if that's you, don't squeeze too hard because it'll get cloudy. Personally, i squeeze as much liquid as i can because i'm wanting to get as much medicine as i can.If you're using dried berries...
- Soak 1.5 lbs dry elderberries (already de-stemmed i'd imagine)
- in 6 cups of water overnight (or at least a couple of hours)
- put this mix in a saucepan, bring to boil and follow the other directions from above
- simmer until it's reduced by half
The Jelly:3 cups juice1⁄4 cup lemon juice2 - 4 1⁄2 cups sugar1 box powdered pectin1⁄2 teaspoon butter, optional
- Measure 3 cups of juice into a saucepan - add up to 1⁄2 cup water to get exact amount of juice needed if berries don’t make enough juice)
- Stir in lemon juice
- In separate bowl, measure sugar**
- Stir pectin into juice in saucepan - Add butter to reduce foaming, if desired
- Bring mixture to full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar quickly. Return to full rolling boil and boil for exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.
- Ladle hot mixture quickly into prepared jars - filling to within 1⁄8 inch of the top
- Wipe mouth jars are easiest - Makes about 5 cups
- Optional - Cap and process for 5 minutes in boiling-water bath to seal and 'can' them - you can also do this as a 'fridge jam' and skip the canning step
** sugar is one of those things that folks tend to feel pretty uncomfortable with. we have created some 'enemy images' for sugar. personally, i vary on my sugar content. sometimes i'm more indulgent and other times less so. 4.5 cups of sugar is enough to preserve this jelly. it'll be sweet, but will last.For gifts...If you can put these in pretty jars, it adds a lot to the presentation of the gift. But you may not be able to 'can' fancier jars.Make a Personalized Label, give the jam a cute name and, if you can, put the recipients' name on the label - no kidding, this goes a long way.I hope y'all enjoy playing this recipe. Check out the links page to find my favourite herb sources.