Elderberry jelly made from wild elderberries, foraging tips and step-by-step instructions.
Do not double this recipe. Make one batch at a time.
- 3-4 lbs ripe (not green) elderberries (after de-stemming)
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 packet MCP pectin*
- 4 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon butter
*If using a different brand of pectin, follow ratios on package instructions for making blackberry jelly.
1 Rinse elderberry clusters thoroughly. Working over a large bowl, work on one small cluster at a time, gently raking your fingers across the clusters to dislodge the berries from the stems. Only use berries that are completely blue or black. Do not use green berries or partially green berries as they are not ripe. For each batch of jelly, collect 3 lbs of de-stemmed elderberries. Once de-stemmed, rinse again.
2 Place berries in a large pot and crush with a potato masher to release some of the juices. Turn the heat to medium and continue to crush as the mixture heats up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
3 Place a large fine-mesh sieve, or 4 layers of cheesecloth, over a pot. Slowly transfer the mashed berries and juice over the sieve to strain the juice out into the pot. Let strain for several hours.
4 Prepare jars for canning. You'll need 5-6 8-ounce canning jars and lids. Rinse out the jars and place on a baking sheet, top up, in the oven. Heat for 10 minutes at 200°F to sterilize the jars. To sterilize the lids, bring a kettle of a couple cups of water to a boil. Place lids in a shallow bowl and pour the boiling water over them.
5 Measure out the juice. You will need 3 cups of juice to make one batch of jelly if using MCP pectin, 3 3/4 cups of juice if using SureJell pectin**. Any amount more than that you can reserve for making syrup, or add to another batch for jelly. Place 3 cups of juice into a large, wide pot (8-quart). Add the lemon juice and pectin.
6 Bring to a boil. Add 4 1/2 cups sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of butter. Stir with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil again. Watch the pot as the mixture will foam up considerably. As soon as the mixture reaches a rolling boil that you cannot diminish by stirring, watch the clock. At exactly 2 minutes, remove from heat and pour mixture into canning jars to 1/4-inch of headspace from the rim.
7 Wipe rims with a damp paper towel. Place lids on jars and rings to secure. If you want, to ensure a good seal and to protect against mold (any potentially harmful bacteria will already be destroyed by the sugar concentration of the jelly), you can process the jars in a water bath for 5 minutes. To do so, put a steaming rack at the bottom of a large, tall pot. Fill the pot halfway with water (enough to cover jars with an inch or two of water when in the pot), bring to a boil, gently place the jars in the pot (helps to use a jar lifter, tongs, or be wearing rubber gloves), boil for 5 minutes, and remove.
Let cool. As the jelly cools you should hear a popping sound as the lids seal.
**Note these are the guidelines from the pectin box instructions. I found that even half as much pectin will cause the jelly to set, though perhaps not as firm as the whole amount.