The Folklore Of The Elderflower
- One name for it is the Judas Tree, as it was thought to be the tree Judas Iscariot hanged himself from
- To fell a tree without suitable protection could free a spirit called the Elder Mother to take her revenge
- The elderflower was said to be a protection against witches, and a knotted twig kept in the pocket was a charm against rheumatism
- Elderflowers were apparently never struck by lightning, and a cross of elder fastened above stables would protect the animals from evil Medicinal benefits
- Elderflower cordials and elderberry wines are high in vitamins A, B and C
- In A Modern Herbal of 1931, Mrs Grieves recommends an elderflower infusion, taken hot before bed, as a remedy for colds and throat trouble
- Mrs Grieves swears by elder leaves as an insect deterrent. The foul-smelling bruised leaves around tender plants and buds prevent attack by aphids and cater-pillars, and gardeners can add a sprig to their hatband to ward off midges
- Medical herbalist Christine Houghton says a daily elderflower infusion, made with fresh flowers, is helpful in preventing hay fever
For Traditional Elderberry Wine Recipe
Produces 5 or 6 bottles of a complex, rich flavoured wine that will be great to drink a year after bottling.
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Elderberry Wine: Taming The Wild Elderberry
Sometimes referred to as the Englishmans grape, the common elderberry has been used to make wine for hundreds possibly thousands of years. By themselves, elderberries make a rich, flavorful wine, but they have long been added to other fruit and berry wines, including grape, to add color, tannin and complexity. Indeed, over the years, several scandals occurred when commercial wineries were discovered to have adulterated their grape wines by adding elderberry to improve their color. Home winemakers, of course, can use them for this purpose, if they so desire.
The elderberry has a long history of use for food, drink and medicinal purposes. Elderberry pie, jam and jelly, tarts, flavored drinks, and of course wine are a few of its better known uses.
Elderberry wine has a unique flavor that changes considerably over time. When too few berries are used, the wine is thin and unlikely to improve. When too many berries are used, the tannins and other flavor constituents may overpower the palate and require dilution, blending or prolonged aging to mellow. Between these extremes are wines that often offer exceptional enjoyment. These wines accept oak well and small amounts blended into lesser grape wines often improves them considerably.
Species of Sambucus
The American Elder grows throughout most of the United States and the eastern half of Canada. These species have black and blue-black berries, respectively.
Growing Elderberries at Home
The Dreaded Goo
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Sanitize Everything & Mash The Elderberries
First, make sure that you sanitize the crock and anything else that you will use in the process. I usually use a product called One Step as its easy to use and non toxic.
After sanitizing, I put the elderberries into the crock and mashed them up a bit with a potato masher to get the juices flowing.
How To Make Elderberry Wine And Identify Wild Elderberry Bushes
How to make elderberry wine it’s something I’ve wondered about since watching Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail many years ago. It turns out that making homemade elderberry wine is pretty easy, as long as you have elderberries.
If you don’t have wild elderberries nearby, you can buy plants and grow your own. I also make up elderberry jellies and syrups, too, but this post is all about the finding the berries and making wine.
Note: If you don’t have access to elderberries, but still want to make elderberry wine, Amazon stocks Elderberries Vintner’s Harvest 96oz Canned Elderberry Fruit Wine Base. This base is pure elderberry fruit juice concentrate. It makes 5 gallons of light wine or 3 gallons of full-flavored wine. Recipes are included.
- 1 cup of chopped raisins
This recipe is made in stages. In stage one, you steep the elderberries in water; in stage two, you add the sugar and raisins.
Remove elderberries from stems and pack in a gallon glass jar. Bring two quarts of water to a boil. Make sure your jar is warm to prevent breakage. Pour the boiling water over the elderberries. Leave a healthy inch of space at the top, because they will swell and expand.
Make a plastic liner for the metal cover. Put the cover on loosely . Set in a sunny place outside for three days.
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Make Your Own Elderberry Wine
Blue elderberry wine is every bit as good as a grape wineor so says Hank Shaw, forager extraordinaire. When blue elderberries are picked at perfect ripeness, crushed, soaked, and fermented, he likens the result to some of the huskier, more brooding red grape wines like Mourvedre and Petit Verdot. If this idea intrigues you, youre in luck! Mr. Shaw has provided a step-by-step guide to making your own elderberry wine, and since the elderberry season runs from July to early October, now is the perfect time to do it.
Elderberry wine-making may sound intimidating, but Shaw says its more science than art.
Balance is what I seek. A fine wine has acidity, alcohol and tannin all in proper proportion. One the prime problems in fruit wines is lack of balance. Some fruits are too acidic. Some too sweet. A few are too tannic. Grapes are the fruit closest to achieving perfection all on their own, which is why they won in the great winemaking game of life.
Elderberries, as it happens, come very close to this as well. They have excellent tannin levels, wonderful color, and reasonable amounts of sugar and acid. All you need to do is adjust these levels and you are on your way to making a wonderful wine.
Shaw also notes that the instructions he provides for elderberry wine could just as easily apply to other fruits, including plums, blueberries, huckleberries, even apples and pears.
How To Find Elderberries
Elderberries like moist soil, so you’ll find them in ditches, along the edges of wet woodlands, near lakes and rivers, and other damp ground. They are native to North America, and can be found throughout most of the US and Eastern Canada, except for in the northwest .
We went foraging for elderberries along country roads here in northeast Wisconsin. My friends had scouted out the area in previous years, so they knew where to start looking. The plants don’t look very showy, but you can watch for the clumps of berries near the top. Here’s an elderberry patch we spotted on the side of the road.
Elderberry berries grow in clusters that stick out above the foliage. If you look closely at the photo above, you can see dark blobs in the shrubs.
Elderberry leaves grow on soft green stems in pairs.
Alternatively, if you can’t find elderberries in the wild, some folks are now raising them for sale .
Berries are most easily harvested by snipping off the clumps and gathering them in a bucket. They will stain if smashed, so trying to strip off individual berries is asking for a mess. I like to tie a bucket around my waist and wade right in.
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Pick Fully Ripe Berry Clusters
I am just a homesteader, not a food scientist or safety expert. However, I have always heard that you should not eat unripe elderberries. A little research revealed that immature berries might contain something called cyanidin glycoside which is not a good thing in large quantities.
For safety, pick clusters that are fully ripened in appearance and are easy to remove from the stems with just a little rub with your fingers.
Homemade Elderberry Wine Is Without A Doubt The Most Refined Distinguished And Classic Wildcrafted Wine I Have Ever Made I Would Love To Show You How It Is Done
Now is the time. The Elderberries are starting to ripen and are perfect for making Elderberry wine, Elderberry syrup, Elderberry jam and jelly, or Elderberry pies. The berries must be fully ripe and as dark as they can be, to make the best Elderberry Products. They should leave your hands and mouth stained a dark and intense purple.If you are going to make only one wild berry wine this life, then make Elderberry Wine.We have two beautiful specimens of native Elderberry bushes in the Apothecarys Garden at the Teaching gardens in Westdale Hamilton.
Elder flowers are excellent as a Tea in the winter, or a refreshing drink in the summer when kept in the form of a syrup. I believe Ikea sells a version of Elderflower syrup, though I doubt it could compete with homemade. The gently dried Elderflowers make an exquisite Wildcrafted tea.Keep this all in mind for next spring if you have an abundance of flowers on your bushes. Whether collecting the flowers reduces the yield of berries is a question I have yet to answer.
But the berries, AHH, The Elderberries, make the finest of wines! There is no wild wine, in my experience, that can outshine a decently crafted Elderberry Wine.One issue I usually have with our local Elderberries, is the lack of tartness and tannins, I dont know if the same issue exists with its European cousin, but there are a couple of effective methods to balance the flavour.
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Some People Choose To Make A Juice And Not Use Any Pulp When Wine Making
Other wine makers like the whole fruit method in a nylon bag. Using a nylon bag skips the messy step of straining the berries for the secondary fermentation stage. I dont know how this recipe would work with just the juice and without the pulp in the primary stage.;Even if you use a;cold pressed juice;you still;benefit from having some pulp in the primary stage for flavor and color.;Read more info here on how different processes affect wine.
This Wine Is Amazing It Certainly Knocks The Socks Off The Old Heavy Country Brews To Me It Is More Like The Modern Fruity Reds From The New World
Blackberry and Elderberry wine makes 30 bottles This recipe is for a standard large fermenter but for a 1 gallon demijohn reduce the ingredients to one fifth of the amount. It is very important to sterilise your equipment, I use a brew safe cleaner/sanitiser at all stages to make sure the wine stays fresh.
To make 5 gallons you will need 3.5kg blackberries 5kg elderberries without any stalks 5.5kg sugar 1 sachet red wine yeast * 5tsp yeast nutrient* 5tsp fermentation stopper Wine finings *You can use a fast-acting wine yeast with the yeast nutrient already added to it. This avoids using two separate products and works faster.
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Beyond Grapes: Elderberry Wine
While grapes are, by far, the most commonly associated fruit with making wine, they certainly arent the only option. Here in the Southeast, where the terrain isnt so ideal for growing grapes, we can instead turn to what is already growing right around us. One such plant that grows easily and in abundance in our region is the American elder , which bears purplish-black berries that come into season from July to late September, depending on where you live. As a result of having a natural balance of not-too-acidic, sweet, or tannic, these plump, little berries make a delicious wine that is every bit as good as that from grapes. The added benefit of making and drinking elderberry wine is its medicinal properties. The fruit has some of the highest antioxidant levels of any fruit. That alone is a great excuse to start making elderberry wine!
Perhaps youre fortunate to have elderberries growing in your own backyard. If so, its likely that the fruit is beginning to ripen now . Wine is best made using fresh-picked berries. However, it is possible to freeze them for later use. If you have an abundance of berries, set some aside for elderberry syrup;a powerful cold and flu fighting elixir or jam. The flowers can also be used to make a delicious liquor. On a sidenote, Fall is a great time to plant fruit trees and bushes and establish your edible landscape.
Basic Elderberry Wine Recipe
*Lalvin D-47, EC-1118, or 71B-1122
A Recipe For A Very Fine Elderberry Wine
For every gallon of wine you wish to make,You will need
- Juicy ripe Elderberries,1/2 gallon, ,
- 1 Kilogram of white sugar, 4 cups.
- Approximately 1 to 2 cups volume, Wild grapes, you can add more if you think it needs more acid or tannin. Explore.
- 4 liters of water
- Sodium Metabisuphite for sterilizing ALL tools and vessels before use. . Can also be used as a preservative for finished products if this interests you.
- 50 grams dried Wild ginger pieces, or 200 grams fresh Wild Ginger rhizomes, scrubbed clean.
- A package of yeast, , either speciality yeast used for wild or floral wines, or a grape wine yeast of your choice, or simply any bread yeast you come across or like.
- Some yeast nutrient. It really helps, if you ever feel things have slowed down prematurely, or stopped, and your yeast is not happy, healthy or working hard transforming your sugar. If you need to kickstart a primary fermentation that has stopped, or if you want to give your yeast a boost to reduce sugar and increase alcohol. Or let them know you love them. Train them.
- 5-10 cloves for flavour.
Method and Process
Good Luck! And remember to always take clear and legible notes. Your future self will thank you!!
Please feel free to leave me a note in the comments section if you have any questions at all. ; I am happy to hear from you and will get back to you ASAP.
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Remove Berries From Stems
You can remove the berries from your stems while you are picking. Or, you can do all your picking and then sit down on your front porch and de-stem your berries while enjoying a beautiful sunset. This process can be a bit messy because sometimes berries fly off the stems in unexpected directions.
Also, if you add the spent stems to your compost, you may end up with a few elderberry shrubs popping up in unexpected places. Alternatively, you can also leave the stems on the ground, under your shrub, as organic matter. Since youll be policing that area to uproot unplanned growth anyhow, this is a safe way to dispose of any unripe berries.
A World Of Wine Possibilities
I bet you already realized that I didnt just give you a recipe for Elderberry Wine. I also gave you enough background and a basic method that will work for all sorts of other fruit wines.
Dilatation rates may vary based on the flavor concentration in the juice you use. As a rule of thumb though, if the juice you start with tastes good and has a nice texture, then the wine will probably taste good too!
Once you get your dilution right, then find your starting Brix, choose your yeast, and work the steps.
You may have to practice a few times to create wines that suit your taste. However, that gives you an excuse to go wine-tasting on your own homestead!
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Nutritional Content Of Elderberries
Elderberries have almost no sugar, but somehow still manage to taste sweet when picked ripe. They have more vitamin C than orange juice, and other good stuff like vitamins A, B, and Iron. Plus, they have lots of cancer-fighting antioxidants.
The berries also about 330 calories per pound of berries or 4000-5000 calories per plant. By comparison, a dwarf apple tree that requires about the same amount of planting space and significantly more care will produce roughly the same amount of calories of fruit.
In a small space, with marginal growing conditions, elderberry shrubs are a smart choice for good nutrition, calorie-content, and beauty. Plus, they can be used to make wine!
Elderberry Wine Recipes For Winemaking
Its also our familys seasonal tradition to harvest elderberries to make elderberry syrup every fall for boosting our immune system. Harvest is usually mid- to late Aug or early Sept. It depends on the year and how early our springs are. We harvest a lot and usually freeze or dehydrate extra elderberries and use them as we need.
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