The elderberry trees are laden with elderberries, the bundles of berries making the tree limbs lean far over practically until they are touching the ground. I am inundated and have to work fast and try to use as many as possible. I also have ragweed to mow down, The Great Annual Muck out needs to be started, and I have two pecks of pears that I need to put up.
I think being up to your ears in elderberries is way worse than cucumbers, but that’s just my opinion. It’s not easy to hand out bags of elderberries to people, while they will most often readily accept a bag of cucumbers with ease. So, the game is on to use up the elderberries! I’ve been given an abundance, even during a drought.
The most tedious thing about elderberries is after you’ve picked the bundles, you have to remove all the stems. It takes about an hour and a half to de-stem 3-4 lbs. of elderberries, which is hard on one’s carpal tunnel. In the end, you only get about 3 cups of juice. The juice of the elderberries is a hard won commodity, let me tell you! So, plan ahead if you want to join in the fun…
The first thing I did was attempt to make jelly by carefully following the instructions of this recipe. My jelly did not set. However, it made a wonderful syrup that would be good over pancakes, in cocktails, or taken by the tablespoon when feeling under the weather. The next time I make this, I’m going to add powdered low-sugar pectin.
I’m working on more berries today to prepare a dye for yarn. I’m also considering attempting another batch of jelly and/or making elderberry brandy. Lots of people like to de-stem and then just throw them in the freezer for another day because they get tired of all this elderberry fun.