We’re all familiar with the Elder tree’s glorious creamy blossom in midsummer, (and you can view our Elderflower cordial recipe here) but did you know that the Elder’s berry harvest is not only edible, but completely delicious?
If you don’t have an Elder tree in your own garden to make the most of these glossy, dark fruits - they may be foraged from the wild where they are out in full force. You will be able to recognise clusters of Elderberries by their small, shiny black exterior and red-hued stalks, surrounded by pinnate leaves. Just remember to leave plenty of berries on each tree for our wildlife, it is a wonderful source of energy for our birds and small mammals too!
Elderberries are naturally rich in vitamins A, B and C - meaning that they work wonders when boosting our immune system (which is going to be handy as those winter bugs are just around the corner). But don’t be tempted to eat the raw berries as they are mildly toxic - so hands off until they’re safely cooked!
Elderberry Jelly Recipe
Below is a guide on how to make the most luxuriously divine, super-nutritious Elderberry jelly to enjoy through the coming winter months.
Elderberry and Port Jelly
3-4 lbs ripe elderberries
1/2 cup port
4 tbsp of lemon juice
1 sachet of pectin
4 1/2 cups white sugar
1/4 tsp butter
1. Rinse your elderberry harvest and strip the clusters from their stems over a large bowl (make sure you wear an apron as these dark berries are known to stain clothes!)
2. Place berries in a large pot along with a splash of port and crush with the back of a wooden spoon to release some of the juices. Brew over a medium heat until the juices are released and the mixture begins to boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Pour your freshly simmered mixture through a cheesecloth or fine sieve - gently massage the pulp until you have released every single drop of precious juice! If you’d rather not get your hands dirty you can leave the mixture to strain over a basin for up to an hour.
4. In a large pot, combine the elderberry juice, lemon juice and pectin. Gradually bring to a boil over medium/high heat and then reduce heat to medium/low.
5. Add the sugar gradually (whilst stirring with a wooden spoon) and then butter whilst slowly bringing the heat up to create a low boil.
6. Clocks & cans!
One the mixture has reached a rolling boil - watch that clock! Wait for exactly two minutes (stirring if necessary) and then remove from the heat. Once this time has past the mixture is ready to be poured into your sterilised cans, tins or jars!
Now all that’s left to do is wait! Like with all conserves, it is best to leave the sealed containers to sit in a cool area for a couple of days so that the mixture can set.
…And there you have it! A nutritious (and totally delicious) conserve to spread on toast or to have with your Sunday roast. If you’re feeling under the weather you can also stir a couple of spoonfuls into a cup of hot water for a vitamin-rich tonic!
Freshly delivered Elder tree gifts can be viewed here.
A handful of elderberries are a scrumptious addition to a home-made apple crumble.