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Elderberry Jelly Recipe

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Elderberries in a bowl.

Elderberries in a bowl.

Photo © Lauren Ware

Get out your water-bath canner and get ready to put up some elderberry jelly. Elderberries make delicious, sweet, unique-tasting jelly. These traditionally-canned jars can be stored at room temperature because the jelly is preserved with sugar and heated in the water-bath canner.

For this recipe, you'll need a source of elderberries, or Sambucus nigrans. If you don't have fresh elderberries, you can purchase dried berries from places that sell herbs, either online or locally. But ask around because many folks have bushes of elderberries growing in their yard that they don't use!

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 5-6 8-ounce jars

Ingredients:

    • 3-4 lb elderberries, destemmed, to yield 3 cups prepared elderberry juice
    • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 1 box pectin
    • 4 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
    • 1/2 tsp butter

Preparation:

  1. Gather needed supplies:
    • Water-bath canner
    • 5-6 8-ounce jars, or more smaller jars that add up to a capacity of around 48 ounces
    • Bands for canning jars
    • New lids for canning jars (do not reuse lids)
    • Potato masher
    • 5-6 quart saucepot
    • Sieve and cheesecloth, jelly bag, or muslin bag for straining elderberry juice
  2. Pick only blue or black, ripe elderberries. As soon as possible after picking, rinse elderberry clusters thoroughly. Use a fork or your fingers to gently remove them from the stems. Once stems are removed, rinse again and drain well. Discard any unripe, wrinkled, or moldy berries.

  3. Place berries in a large stockpot and crush with a potato masher to release juice. Turn heat to medium and stir occasionally as juice begins to flow. Once the mixture reaches a boil, turn heat to simmer. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.

  4. Pour the mixture into a jelly bag, muslin bag, or cheesecloth-lined sieve, over a large bowl. Allow juice to drip into bowl for several hours, until the dripping stops. Press or squeeze very gently to release additional juice - but beware, this may cloud your elderberry jelly slightly.

  5. Prepare jars for canning. Use 5-6 8-ounce jars, or more smaller jars. Fill boiling-water canner halfway with water and bring to a simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in warm, soapy water and rinse well with warm water. Drain jars well. Pour boiling water over lids in a small saucepan off the heat, and let stand until ready to use.

  6. Measure 3 cups of juice into a 6- or 8-quart saucepot. Add up to 1/2 cup water if necessary to make the proper amount of juice. Stir in 1/4 cup lemon juice.

  7. Stir one box of pectin into juice. Add 1/2 tsp butter as needed to reduce foaming. Bring the pectin and juice mixture to a full, rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly.

  8. Stir in 4 1/2 cups of sugar and return the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil for precisely one minute, stirring constantly.

  9. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with a metal spoon.

  10. Ladle the mixture immediately into prepared canning jars. Fill the jars to within 1/8 inch of tops. Carefully wipe the rims of the jars with a clean cloth.

  11. Cover jars with two-piece lids. Screw bands down tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower the rack carefully, making sure that water covers the tops of the jars by one to two inches (add boiling water if necessary). Cover canner and bring to a gentle boil.

  12. Process jars for 5 minutes in a gentle boil. Remove jars, placing upright on towels to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing gently in center of lid with finger. They should not spring back. Refrigerate any that are not sealed properly.

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