Elderberry Jelly and Field Trip Follow Up

Elderberry Jelly and Field Trip Follow Up

Sorry for the delay, but I have finally downloaded the pictures from the elderberry field trip and experimented with some elderberry-cherry jelly! Here are the photos from our trip to the River Ranch owned by Wildlands Inc. We pretty much caravaned down the levee picking berries as we went. Or I should say Bill (from Wildlands) carefully picked the berries for us while we placed them in our bags! It was very easy, the weather was great, and because the reclamation district had just burned the grasses on the levees, there were no ticks!

Jonathan and Bill
Claire and Elderberries

We did run into a little poison oak, but that was easily avoided. I think Bill and I were the only ones close enough to maybe get some on our clothes, and we didn’t have any problems. But it was a good lesson in identifying it, especially since it was still all nice and green with no tell tale reddish leaves. Poison Oak spreads it’s toxin through an oil it excretes. These oils spread easier when in heat, sweat, hot water or steam. But because it is an oil, it does not easily come of with soap and water. For those of you who are not used to dealing with poison oak here are a few basic tips:

  1. Take off all your clothes and bath in cold water immediately after exposure. (never warm or hot)
  2. While bathing rinse any areas you think might be exposed in rubbing alcohol. Then rinse again with soap and water.
  3. Keep all these clothes separate from others and prewash usng rubbing alcohol. (You may want to make sure it will not bleach your clothes, but I haven’t had any problems.) Then follow with a regular wash.

Following these basic steps we have never had an out break in our family. But enough about poison oak, we saw so many other beautiful things. Like the Sacramento River in the morning, red tail hawks soaring, great egrets, wild roses, jack rabbits, not to mention the elderberries! It was a beautiful and productive morning! I am very greatfull to Bill and Wildlands for all their help with this field trip.

snack time
I always freeze the berries immediately when get home, they are so much easier to get off the stems when frozen. This time I laid them on cookie sheets and before placing them in the freezer. This made it easier because the did not get tangled in one another.

Then I took them out one cookie sheet at a time and shook the berries off. It worked very well. I rinsed them a few times in a bowl of ice water to clean them. I like to try to keep the berries cold, so they are less likely to pop and let some of the juice leak out. I think next year, I might try washing them while on the stems and before freezing them. I am still experimenting with the best way to wash them with out loosing the juice. Even so, I still had plenty of juicy berries left.

Next I place them all in a large pot with just enough water to cover them all. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

I then juice the berries in batches. I place a layer of cheesecloth in a strainer and them mash the berries in the strainer and collect the juice in a bowl below. I them place the remaining pulp in a bag before throwing away. (It doesn’t have the most pleasant smell).

This time I then poured the juice into ice cube trays to freeze it. After they are all frozen, I transfered them to a freezer bag. That way, I can take out what I need through out the year to make the syrup.

Frozen elderberries
just elder berries

Recipes on the next page…

Elderberry Syrup

  1. Boil 3 cups of elderberry juice with 15 whole cloves for 10 minutes. Optional: I also add 1 cup raspberry or dark cherry juice (unsweetened).
  2. After the 10 minutes, you can choose to remove the cloves, or leave them in the syrup.
  3. Take off the heat and add 1 cup honey and 1 cup sugar. Many recipes call for twice the amount of sugar, so you can add sugar until desired taste, but remember it will taste sweeter as it cools. I like using half local honey because consuming local honey can help build the immune system.
  4. I place the syrup in jars (makes 6-7 cups) and can using a water bath method (bath 10 minutes).
  5. Let cool completely before storing the well sealed jars in a cool dark place until opened. Once opened store in the fridge.

Since I already had enough syrup right now, I set aside 1.5 cups of elderberry juice to experiment with elderberry jelly. I liked it, so here is the recipe…

Spiced Elderberry-Cherry Jelly

  1. Boil 1.5 cups of elderberry juice, 1/2 cup unsweetened, dark cherry juice, and the juice of 1/2 a lemon with 3 whole cloves, 2 whole all spice, and 1 cinnamon stick for 10 minutes.
  2. While the juice is boiling, mix in a separate bowl 1/2 cup honey with 2 t pectin powder (use the amount as specified on your pectin package).
  3. At this point, remove the spices and add 2 t calcium water (use the amount as specified on your pectin package).
  4. Take off the heat and add the honey/pectin mixture and 1/2 cup sugar. Return to a boil.
  5. I place the jelly in 1 cup (2-3) jars and can using a water bath method (bath 10 minutes).
  6. Let cool completely before storing in well sealed jars in a cool dark place until opened. Once opened store in the fridge.

Let me know what you think and if you have a few recipes of your own!