September 10, 2013

Apple & Elderberry Jelly

This recipe came about because we have a few apple trees on our property and we had a big harvest this year. It's been fun making different recipes with the apples. I've made quite a few jars of apple butter so that I can enjoy these yummy grilled sandwiches. So I'm very familiar with the apple. I eat one just about everyday and lately sometimes more. Something I'm not so familiar with is the elderberry. We've discovered that where we live has an abundance of wild berries.  Although I felt like I had heard the word elderberry before I couldn't put my finger on it. Then I read that the wand Harry Potter used was known as the Elder Wand, that must be where I remember it from. 

I did lots of research about these little berries and learned they pack quite the health punch. They are very rich in antioxidants, potassium and vitamin C. Apparently there is an elderberry supplement that people take for colds and the flu. The elderberry tree has been used medicinally for a long time and is referred to as the "people's medicine chest." You need to cook the berries though, too many raw can be poisonous. What's better than a supplement though? The fresh stuff! So people often make syrups and wine with them. I decided to try my hand at making jelly and since I had lots of apples I thought I would make apple & elderberry jelly. 

Before I could get those beautiful results above I had to figure out how to de-stem the elderberries. A lot of people recommend using a fork and then I read somewhere that the freezing them works really well. So I tried the freezing method. Here's what I did: 

I grabbed the biggest, containers I had that could go in the freezer. Then I went outside and cut off as much of the main stem from the elderberries as I could. This took a while. I left the remaining elderberries and stems in the container with a few inches of room at the top. Then I put the lid on and froze them. I had about 5 containers full. The next day I took one container of berries out of the freezer and shook them like crazy. Sure enough the stems came off the berries, then I just had to fish out the berries leaving the stem behind. I did read that someone put them in water and the berries floated to the top. No matter what you do some stems still remain. You are working with some very tiny berries, with some very tiny stems. The good thing about making jelly though is that you just need the juice, so all the remaining stem gets left behind in the draining process. The results of the remaining juice are such a magnificent red color. 
So for the jelly I took a basic apple recipe and added elderberries. The recipe doesn't call for Pectin since apples apparently are so full of it already. Truth be told my recipe didn't make jelly for me it made more of a syrup. Has that ever happened to you before? There are a number of reasons why this could have happened. Maybe the apples from our trees aren't that full of pectin? Maybe the elderberries messed it up? 
If you really want to be sure to have jelly just add pectin to my recipe below and it should work for you. I'm actually really happy we ended up with syrup. Now I have a ready made cold medicine stored away. It's also so good in tea and amazing drizzled over pancakes. 

I would love to hear if you try the recipe and how it turns out for you. Enjoy!

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