Friday, August 26, 2011

Lots of Yummy Elderberry Jelly

Elderberry jelly is by far everyone's favorite around here and they'll be glad to know that this was a good year. I was much more organized than in previous years and picked berries as they ripened. That meant checking once a week for about a month to get them at their best. When I bought the twenty 12 oz. jars at Goodwill I thought I'd never fill them all but I very nearly did. The big jar is for my friend whose kids will sneak into the kitchen and eat elderberry jelly with a spoon. Who needs bread?
I keep coming across natural dye information that suggests using elderberry as a purple dye and last year I boiled up a dye bath from the leftover pulp from jelly making. I made up a test piece and put it by the window to see how it would hold up. Not well. Within a month it was a blah brown. Really, pokeweed dye holds up better and that dulls out too. So my advice is, don't bother with it. Make jelly.

Friday, August 12, 2011

It's Elderberry Season!

Sponge Bob has his jelly fishing and I have elderberry season. Jelly making! Jelly making! My enthusiasm level is about the same as his. The elderberries nearest my home were decimated by the birds but I can't really blame them after the hot dry summer we've had. Just imagine how good those juicy berries must have tasted to them. My super secret spot (just kidding, it's on a busy road.)is looking wonderful though. The birds there either don't like elderberries or the abundance has overwhelmed them. I've got 7 cups of juice in the fridge from my first pick and most of the bushes still needed a bit more time to ripen. I'll be making the jelly I give as holiday presents but I do want to try a pie this year.
The steps involved in getting that jelly made are a good bit of work. Normally, I hate being hot and sweaty but somehow, when I'm picking berries or boiling jelly, it doesn't bother me. It feels so satisfying to have made something from start to finish. Finding the wild fruit was a treasure hunt, so was the great deal on twenty canning jars from Goodwill. As if tasting divine weren't enough, elderberries are loaded with vitamin C and have been used to boost the immune system for eons. When I give it to my friends and family I do so in the hope that it will help them stay healthy through the winter. Here's a link to the recipe I use: I've been using cider vinegar in place of the lemon juice and it seems to do just fine.