Whenever wild elderberries produce with wild abandon, I make either elderberry jelly or jam. And this year, are they prolific! (To learn how to ID elderberry, read this.) You could not even tell that the bushes had been picked, as I carried my basket of tiny purple berries to the kitchen to make Seedless Elderberry Apple Jam. It’s made the old fashioned way, without added pectin.
I prefer jam over jelly, simply because more fruit goes into the jar and less into the compost, but I don’t like elderberry seeds in my jam. Solution? Simple. Strain them out through a fine mesh strainer, rather than a jelly bag, to get as much pulp as possible into the pot.
I used the apples for 3 reasons:
- We always have a ton of not quite ripe apples at this time of year, and I’m in a bit of a panic about whether I’ll find the time to preserve them all.
- Slightly under ripe apples are high in pectin, a welcome addition to low pectin elderberries.
- Apples mellow the flavor of elderberry.
Scroll right down to recipe below, or first check out these basic canning supplies, all of which are quite useful to the obsessed canner such as myself:
Seedless elderberry apple jam
Yield: 3 half-pint jars of jam
- 6 cups of elderberries, carefully picked over to remove any green berries and pieces of stems and leaves.
- 8 small-medium, slightly under-ripe apples, diced (roughly 1/2 inch pieces) and cored (leave skin on). I’ve used Liberty, McIntosh, and Jonathan with great results in my various versions of elderberry apple jelly and jam.
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 and 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- In a large saucepan, gently crush some of the berries with the back of a large spoon. You must be gentle, to avoid crushing the seeds, which releases a bitter flavor into the juice.
- Add the water and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and gently crushing the berries with the back of the spoon, until enough of the berries have burst to make it liquidy. You won’t need to do much crushing because the boiling actually makes most of them burst.
- Add diced apples, return to a boil, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until apples are mushy.
- Strain through a fine mesh metal strainer, to remove seeds. You may gently push the berry and apple pulp through the strainer with the back of a spoon. But, again, avoid crushing the elderberry seeds.
- Put the juice/pulp, the sugar, and the lemon juice into a large saucepan, and return to a boil. The mixture will be thick, so stir frequently, scraping the bottom of the pot, to prevent scorching.
- Continue simmering and stirring/scraping for about 10-15 minutes, until it sheets off a spoon (or until it reaches desired thickness). Hint: Do not use the temperature test for doneness. Mine became quite thick and passed the spoon test while still at the boiling point of water, 212 degrees F. It’s a firm gel when cool.
- Pour into sterile half-pint jars, cover with sterile lids and rings, and process for 15 minutes in boiling water bath.
Truth be told, I’m becoming a foraging and wild edibles fanatic. Do you like foraging? Have you used elderberries?