Whether you turn this into a syrup or jelly really depends on a few factors. First of all I don’t use store bought pectin, I depend on the pectin that comes out of a lemon and some apples or the fruit itself. Using store bought pectin almost always ensures you’ll get a firm jelly texture.
If the juice isn’t cooked long enough to reach the jelly threshold, you’ll end up with syrup instead of jelly. But don’t fret over all that because elderberries make the most beautiful dark red syrup for pancakes, French, toast or dribble some syrup over ice cream, whatever your imagination may come up with. I also hear that elderberries have great health benefits.
Ya it’s a bit of work making your own jelly or syrup, but if you weren’t up to it you wouldn’t be searching for the recipe 😉
I have an elderberry bush is on my property, so it’s very convenient for me to pick the fruit a little at a time since the fruit doesn’t all ripen at once anyways. I sometimes freeze the fruit and make the syrup at my convenience without a noticeable difference in quality.
If you are using store-bought pectin follow the package instructions for blackberries.
Once you get your berries home, rinse them well and remove the berries from the stem with a fork. Only use the dark really ripe berries. The rest of the under ripe berries and the stem is poisonous, contains cyanide they say.
If not using store-bought pectin continue here:
Put the elderberries in a large stainless steel pot, for 2 cups of berries chop up 1 apple and a 1/2 lemon. Add a little water, just to barely cover the fruit and simmer very low for a few hours. Mash the fruit with a potato masher after about an hour of simmering to help release the juice.
When the juice look rich and dark, strain with a fine mesh stainless steel strainer or use a couple layers of cheesecloth.
Measure the juice and for every cup of liquid add a cup of sugar.
Boil juice and sugar on medium high while constantly stirring so it doesn’t burn to the bottom. After about 15-20 minutes do the wrinkle test and this is where you decide whether you want jelly or syrup.
*Wrinkle test-put a small plate in the freezer for a few minutes. Then dribble some juice on the plate and wait a few minutes then use your finger and push the juice, if it looks a little wrinkled then you have jelly. *
Sterilize jars and new lids in a large pot of simmering water. Fill hot jars with hot juice and seal immediately.
When you hear the lids get sucked in (it’s a popping sound) you know the jar is sealed. This takes anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour.
To check if a jar is sealed, push in the top if it moves its not sealed, Keep the unsealed jar in the fridge to be used first.
You can use the water-bath method to be sure jars are sealed very well, just to be safe. Even though my mother would keep canned stuff forever, I think the older generation just knew what they were doing. I tend not to keep preserved jams longer than about 6 months.
-Use a deep pot or juice may rise and boil all over the stove.
-Only use stainless steel for everything when it comes to canning, the acids in fruit are reactive. For a great example of what happens, go to my red currant page to see a picture of my berries in a non stainless steel strainer. http://www.urbanwhisk.com/red-currant-jelly-html/