Last weekend I went and harvested blue elderberries. Lots and lots of elderberries. Too many really. But I’ve never done this before and had no idea how much they would yield. My friend, Monte did most of the picking for me.
It was fun to be outside, chatting, working.
The picking was the easy part. Cleaning all those berries took forever, but it went quickly once I got the hang of it.
Whew! That’s a LOT of berries. That middle dish is a 9 X 13 casserole. 24 cups worth of berries went into the freezer. Another 18 cups or so (7 trays worth) went into the dehydrator… The rest? Some will be jam, but I made elderberry vinegar first. This took 3 days total.
First you wash the berries and mash them, trying not to make too much of a huge mess out of your kitchen. Then you pour the vinegar over them.
Then you cover this with a cheesecloth. Your house will smell like vinegar. You have been warned. Let the vinegar/elderberry mixture stand for 24-36 hours (I did this on successive nights). Line a sieve with cheesecloth and allow the fruit to drain for 24 hours.
I loosely covered the berries with the ends of the cheesecloth to keep the fruit flies down. You aren’t supposed to press on the berries because it can make your vinegar cloudy.
Finally! The last steps. You add the sugar and bring the mixutre to a boil.
Simmer for 15 minutes, then allow the liquid to cool before bottling up in clean jars.
Store in a cool, dark place. Use like you would use raspberry vinegar. I’m imagining spring greens drizzled with elderberry vinegar and topped with candied nuts and chevre… Nom!