12 vintage elderflower and elderberry recipes

Homemade black elderberry syrup in glass jar

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Take your pick of elderberry recipes (1969)

By Lillian Marshall – The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) July 23, 1969

Every summer, when the elderflowers bloom like plate-sized doilies along the highways, we make great plans to grab the berries when they ripen, cook good things and pass along the results to you.

Then time marches away from us, the berries come and go and we haven’t done it again. At last, though, some recipes have come to light, supplied by the University of Kentucky Extension Service.

Elderberries will grow in poor soil where almost nothing else will, so if you know where there’s a big patch in bloom, watch them ripen and pick them before somebody else does!

Two elderberry wine recipes are in this kit, and we’re especially glad to have them, we get so many requests for them. So if you’ve always wanted to try your hand, you couldn’t have a better chance.

For those who like to take the time for homemade wine, elderberries can be used. To use or not to use yeast for fermenting is up to you.

Elderberry wine recipe

Wash elderberries and put them in a large kettle. Add only enough water to keep them from scorching and bring to a boll. Heat to scald them thoroughly, stirring and mashing them as they heat.

Strain through cheesecloth and measure juice. To 10 cups juice, add 8 cups of white sugar, stirring to dissolve completely. Place in stoneware crock, cover loosely and set away in a cool place to ferment. Skim daily until clear. When bubbles cease to rise to the top of the liquid, it is ready to bottle.

Now, appended to this recipe is a notation that says, “… the richest flavored wine you ever tasted. Yeast is apt to sour the wine and it is a mistake to hurry the fermenting process. The addition of other liquor spoils the fine natural flavor.” And the next recipe breaks both the rules; it contains both, yeast and added liquor!

Heap of elderberry with wooden spoon, healthy food and nutrition concept
Photo by ratmaner/Envato

English elderberry wine

5 quarts (dry measure) elderberries
2 cups light brown sugar (per quart of juice)
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cloves
1 stoneware crock
1-1/2 tablespoons brewer’s yeast (or 1/4 cake fresh yeast — or a cake compressed yeast)
Sugar to moisten yeast
A slice toast
A pint brandy or Cognac
A 2-1/2 gallon wooden keg, well scalded out

Crush the berries and add water to almost cover. Stir thoroughly and strain. Measure juice and add the 2 cups sugar per quart of juice. Add spices and simmer 15 minutes.

Pour into stoneware crock. Spread yeast, which has been moistened with sugar, on the slice of toast and float on top. Set away, loosely covered, to ferment. When it stops “working,” strain into the wooden keg, add brandy or Cognac and drive the bung in tightly.

Rack off and bottle in four months, longer if you can wait.

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Frozen elderberries

Sort, wash and drain berries. Scald a minute in boiling water. Cool a minute in ice water. Drain well. Fill freezing container and seal well. Freeze immediately.

Or pack them in syrup: Pack into containers and cover with syrup made by dissolving 3 cups sugar in 4 cups water, heated to boiling. Cool syrup before pouring over berries. Leave 1/2-inch headroom and seal.

Elderberry jelly

3-1/2 cups elderberry juice (about 3-1/2 pounds berries)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
7-1/2 cups sugar
A package powdered fruit pectin

Wash and stem berries. Place in large kettle and crush. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes. Strain juice through a jelly bag or cheesecloth. Measure juice. (If you don’t have quite enough juice, add apple juice to make the 3-1/2 cups.) Add lemon juice and pour into a kettle.

Stir in the sugar as the juice heats and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Add pectin. Bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard exactly a minute. Remove from heat, skim and ladle into hot sterilized jars. Makes about five 1/2-pint glasses.

Elderberry jam

8 cups elderberries
6 cups sugar
1/4 cup vinegar

Wash, drain, stem, crush and measure berries. Add sugar and vinegar. Boll, stirring, until thick. Pour, boiling hot, into hot sterilized jars and seal at once.

Elderberry cobbler

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup boiling water or milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups elderberries
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1/2 orange

Beat the eggs and the sugar together. Add dry ingredients which have been sift- ed or stirred together. Add the boiling water or milk and the vanilla.

Heat the berries to simmering and place in bottom of baking dish. Add lemon and orange juice. Spread the batter over fruit. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, or longer, until nicely browned.

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The elderberry bush — a valuable wayside product (1921)

by Florence Taft Eaton – New-York Tribune (NYC) September 11, 1921

Delectable dishes made from elderberries are a leftover from old-time housekeeping, when table luxuries were not so varied and abundant as now.

At the present time, however, when automobiles and trolley cars have brought the resources of the countryside to everybody having a fondness for the open road, everything holding a promise of conserved future delectability is eagerly sought for.

The rich, purple clusters of the elderberry, seen in such abundance everywhere along country byways, tempt the ambitious housewife who is not afraid of novel combinations.

The culinary possibilities and delicate flavor of this wayside product, which some think resembles that of the blackberry, are not generally known.

Tasted au naturel, the fruit seems slightly bitter. This quality seems to disappear entirely when cooked, and the dishes in which elderberries are used seem not unlike those ordinarily made of blueberries and huckleberries, these latter often expensive and difficult to obtain.

The abundant purple clusters of the elderberry may be piled in a large basket when one is picking, and stripped from the stem later on.

Try these recipes. Muffins and griddle cakes may be made, using them just as you would blueberries or even the smaller huckleberries.

Elderberry syrup

Elderberry pie recipe

Line a fairly deep pie plate with pastry; wet a half-inch strip of the paste and lay around the edge; fill with elderberries which have been washed; sift over them a teaspoonful or so of flour; add half a cupful — three-fourths if you like very sweet pies — of sugar, and two tablespoonfuls of water to start steam. Cover with the paste and pinch down well. Bake as a blueberry pie, in a hot oven.

Elderberry Betty recipe

Butter a glass baking dish and fill with alternate layers of thin, buttered bread and elderberries, sprinkling each layer of the fruit with one to two tablespoonfuls of sugar.

Plan to have the bread for the top layer, add dots of butter, pour half a cupful of hot water over and bake slowly, covered, about one and oone-halfhours, or until well cooked and rich; uncover the last half hour to brown. Serve with snowdrift sauce.

Elderberry breakfast jam recipe

This is delicious used on cereal with cream.

Boil required amount of elderberries with enough water to keep from sticking and to make sufficient juice; add about one-third of the quantity in sugar, and cook, stirring until like a thin jam. This requires about half an hour.

Thicken slightly with a little cornstarch dissolved in cold water, so that the jam will just pour like a thick blackberry jam. Serve a spoonful on cereal before adding cream. This may be made and canned for winter use by omitting the cornstarch, which you can add before using.

Elderberry juice recipe

Cook elderberries in the proportion of one quart of berries to one cup of water, until soft and broken, mashing and stirring to thoroughly break. If it seems too thick to yield juice freely, double the quantity of water. Let drip in a jelly bag overnight.

Next morning, pour the juice very carefully so as not to disturb the sediment through three thicknesses of wet cheesecloth and bring to a boil, add one-third of a cup of sugar to each quart of juice, boil a moment and can, boiling hot, in pint jars.

The amount of sugar may be varied according to taste. The juice should be sweet enough so that, when added to water and chipped ice in desired proportions when used, no more sugar is necessary.

Elderberry jelly recipe

Elderberries are not rich in pectin and should be used, when making jelly, in combination with apples. The berries should be picked when just underripe. Use about two parts of berries to one part of fruit or half and half.

Strip the berries from the stems and cut the apples in small pieces, add enough water so that it may be just seen through the fruit when pressed closely down. Mash and stir well while cooking and boil until all is a mush.

Drain through a jelly bag, boil the juice rapidly twenty minutes, add an equal measure of sugar, boil five minutes or until it sheets from a spoon, and pour into hot, sterilized glasses.

Elderflower crisps

Pick sprays of elderflower blossoms before they begin to fall. Dip in an ordinary frying batter: one egg yolk and white beaten separately, one-fourth of a cupful of milk, pinch of salt, one teaspoonful of olive oil, one teaspoonful of sugar, one-half cupful of flour, or enough to make almost a drop batter before the egg white is added, which should be last.

Fry an instant in smoking hot fat until crisp and brown. Pile lightly on a hot serving dish.

How to make real old-fashioned homemade jam & jelly

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Comments on this story

One Response

  1. I had a recipe for elderberry wine that only had 3 ingredients in it the juice water and sugar the recipe was from a 1800’s cook book my Aunt had it, and when she died it disappeared, l have made it without the yeast and it is delicious, l was even told it should be poured over ice cream.

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