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I live in Northern Michigan…where can I get elderberries? They are hard to find right now.
Hi Kim, I’ve never seen fresh elderberries for sale anywhere; at least around here one must forage for them. The season for elderberries ranges from late June through September, depending on where you are. By late October, it’s probably well past the season for Northern Michigan. I would talk to someone at a local nursery to ask about the elderberry season where you are.
Thank you Elise, I did cook them first and then started to try the food mill. I found the food mill ground up the seeds somewhat making the pulp coming out of the mill gritty from the grinding of the seeds. So I ended up still draining through cheese cloth for a more desirable consistency. I love using the food mill for other sauces (like tomatoes) but the elderberry seeds stay brittle even after the cooking. Might invest in the steamer strainer. A good thing since I have a beautiful big elderberry tree.
Thanks for you help. I hope this answers anyone else inquiring the use of the food mill for this.
instead of mashing and straining berries could you use a food mill. I also read somewhere not to put in food processor as it could cause it not to set. What do you think
You could try a food mill. I don’t recommend a food processor unless you want something more akin to jam than jelly.
Would we be able to use dried elderberries this recipe? We haven’t had a chance to go picking this year, but it’s one of our favorites!
Hi Tina, I answered this question earlier in the comments. I know you can use dried elderberries to make syrup (just Google it), so I’m guessing that you should be able to turn that syrup into jelly. No idea on the taste. I would always rather work with fresh fruit.
Thanks for this excellent recipe! I’m starting my third batch of the summer right now. It’s been our go-to immune booster for the summer colds (which come with preschool…) and my parents love it, too Thank you from a Davis family. :)
Great recipe!! My whole family loves it. We decided to make extra jelly this year, as it didn’t last long last year.
If my stems are not still green have I waited too long to pick the berries?
Hi Patricia, as long as the berries aren’t dried out, you should be fine. The berries I use come from stems that are both green and red.
If my jelly didn’t set and I used 2 cups of water to 4 cups of dried elderberries, then finished recipe, should I redo with more dried elderberries or wait and see if it sets?
Hi Bonita, since this is a recipe using fresh elderberries, not dried elderberries, I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve never tried making this jelly with dried elderberries.
We comb our elderberries with a dinner fork to stem them. It’s just like combing hair. Super easy and fast.
So glad you mentioned this, I was going to myself. No reason to spend more than just a few minutes getting berries off of stems, using the fork method!
Can you use dried elderberries to make jam?
Hi Rose, good question! I know you can use dried elderberries to make syrup (just Google it), so I’m guessing that you should be able to turn that syrup into jelly. No idea on the taste. I would always rather work with fresh fruit.
I printed off elderberries jelly recipes made jelly exactly as stated and waterbath 5 minutes. Jelly did not set just syrupy this morning. followed every single thing to detail what would have gone wrong? used surejell pectin. did not squeeze lemons used lemon juice concentrate would that have been reason for not setting up?
Hi Eugenia, some years this happens to me too. It must be something to do with that year’s batch of elderberries. I just let the jelly sit in the cupboard for a month or two and eventually it sets.
Made this for the very first time, we are hooked!! I’m blessed with a large bush of elderberry near me.. I did notice though, the jelly was setting as I was ladeling it hot into the jars.. is the pectin necessary for jelly??
Hi Donna, awesome that you made the jelly! Yes the jelly does need added pectin in order to set. There isn’t enough natural pectin in elderberries to have the jelly set on its own. If you don’t use pectin you’ll have a delicious elderberry syrup though, that you can pour over ice cream or add a little salt and use as a sauce for pork or duck.
This was 100% my experience as well- it set well quicker than the concord grape jam I make every year when those come in season. Wondering if I could use less next time, as I’m anticipating it being nearer to jello texture than anything else.
to everyone out there picking elderberries to make jelly. don’t try to “pick” the berries. cut the berry clusters off and just trim the leaves and bigger stems. take them home , place in a bag (paper is better for this) and put in the freezer. when frozen shake the bag vigorously. 90 % of the berries will fall off of the stems.
Is there any degradation to the flavor when you freeze the berries first?
I have been making it for yrs over 100 jars usually because my kids& grandkids love it. I always went with the recipe on the sure gel box but they don’t have it on anymore. used to pick the berries off the stems but haven’t done that for yrs I wash them good then cook them with the stems on then mash with a potato masher to get all the juice. put in frig next day make the jelly never have we found any bugs. if you like sweet
& s our meatballs try it with elderberry jelly instead of grape it is by far better than made with grape jelly
When working with elderberries, after you pick the heads off, place the heads in a bag and put them in the freezer. After they are completely frozen, take them out and the berries come off the stems MUCH easier!!!!! I have found that using a large paper bag, only fill it about 1/3 full before putting it in the freezer. If you fill the bag, the berries are thawing out before you can get the whole bag done.
My mother-in-law introduced me to Elderberries years ago. She shared a useful tip to get rid of the bugs that love Elderberries. Submerge your harvested clusters in water (we use a large ice chest), and the bugs will crawl out immediately. Do this before bringing the berries inside. Then, you can easily remove the berries from the stems.
One thing about elderberries in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. There are two (2) varieties and have been known to hybridization in the wild. The RED ELDERBERRY IS NOT EDIBLE because the alkaloids concentrate in the berries, unlike the black elderberry. And I agree with one of your commenters, too much elderberry jam can cause diarrhea or stomach cramps. That being said. I loved this jam everything I was served it in other people’s home.
My grandmother made elderberry and crabapple jelly. It was simply the best jelly, ever. I have been trying to make the same, but have not been able to recreate the masterpiece, yet. Shame that the recipe is guarded by a family member, that doesn’t use it. If anyone has a similar recipe, let me know, please.
I posted an over-100-year-old recipe for elderberry jelly yesterday and got curious how it compared to present recipes. Here are the directions and recipe, attributed to my Great-Grandmother:
Cut-off & gather whole berry clusters
Wash berry clusters in water
De-stem & only use ripe berries
Press berries & cook down the juice
Immediately clean berry press
Skim impurities off cooked juice
Pour juice in jelly bag & let drip over night
Make in very small batches
Add 3-tbsp. apple juice to 1-pint berry juice
Let juice mixture boil for 5-minutes
Slowly add 1-pound sugar while stir briskly
Jar after all sugar dissolved
If interested in the background, here is the link to this page on my Blog:
Green Dean from “Eat the Weeds” says DO NOT EAT THE GREEN BERRIES. I trust him with my life. So just pick out the greenies and you will end up with some delish jelly! Blessings all.
If you include a few green berries with the rest that you are cooking, it should help the jelly set. You should definitely not eat the green berries raw. You shouldn’t eat the ripe berries raw either, though a few won’t hurt you.