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582brew 10-26-2009 02:56 PM

Elderberry Mead?
Hello! I had a quick question. My friend came across some elderberries on her property and we were interested in making an elderberry mead with them. I've seen recipes on the forums using dried berries but does anyone have an suggestions on how to tweak these in order to use fresh berries (how much to use etc...)? I've also read that they are very tannic, so if I smash them and strain off the solids would this be ok?

Teromous 10-26-2009 03:17 PM

Have you considered making wine out of it?

582brew 10-26-2009 03:35 PM

We thought about it, but since its so late in the season there aren't very many left. We may have 2lbs to work with.

gratus fermentatio 10-26-2009 08:48 PM

I'd use the whole 2 pounds of berries added to 5gallons of mead (in secondary), just wash 'em, freeze 'em, thaw them & rack onto them for your secondary. I'd also use pectic enzyme. I think 2 pounds would add a nice, light elderberry flavour while still letting the honey come through. Regards, GF.

Teromous 10-27-2009 01:38 PM

You're lucky to have access to some. I'd like to try making an elderberry wine.

Emerald 10-27-2009 03:35 PM

If I had only two pounds to work with this year, I think that I would make what my Great Grandma would have called a cordial (?) and just put the berries in canning jars and put good brandy over them and let them sit in a cool dark place and shake at least once a week. She used it for muscle pains and well,, Woman problems:o. But I must say, it was a lovely flavor and color for a nice end of the meal drink.
Then next year go and harvest more earlier in the season..
One trick on harvesting. Cut the whole umbel of berries by cutting it and then back home where it is more comfy, just take a bowl and a fork and you use the fork as a small rake to rake the berries off the stem into a big bowl.. Much faster than picking them by hand. I helped Great Grandma quite a few times to de-stem the berries and I treasure those times now.
Hope this helps a bit.

Another thought- an apple/honey/elderberry wine would be yummy!;):D

Teromous 10-29-2009 10:40 AM

I found this recipe online. Perhaps you could modify it by adding honey:

3 lbs fresh, ripe elderberries
2 lbs finely granulated sugar
3-1/2 quarts water
2 tsp acid blend
1 tsp yeast nutrient
1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
1 crushed Campden tablet
Montrachet wine yeast

Bring water to boil and stir in sugar until dissolved. Meanwhile, wash, inspect and destem the elderberries. Put them in nylon straining bag, tie closed, and put in primary. Wearing sterilized rubber gloves, mash the elderberries and cover with the boiling sugar-water. Cover and set aside to cool. When lukewarm, add acid blend, yeast nutrient and crushed Campden tablet. Cover primary and wait 12 hours, then stir in pectic enzyme. Recover primary and wait another 12 hours, then add yeast. Cover and stir daily, gently squeezing the bag to extract flavor from the berries (don't forget the gloves or you'll be sorry). Ferment 14 days, then drip drain the elderberries (don't squeeze). Combine drippings with juice and set aside overnight. Rack into secondary and fit airlock. Put in dark place to protect the color from light. Ferment two months and rack, top up and refit airlock. Repeat two months later and again two months after that. Stabilize and wait 10 days. Rack, sweeten to taste and bottle. Store bottles in dark place for one year. Then enjoy. [Adapted from Terry Garey's The Joy of Home Winemaking]

582brew 10-29-2009 12:20 PM

Thanks for all the great input everyone! I'll let you know how it goes!

Lookin4space 08-15-2011 02:03 AM

I just Vitamix'd 2 cups of elderberries, funneled it into a Carlo Rossi jug, added a quart of honey and water to top it off, added a bunch of spices (apple pie type) threw in a crushed campden tablet, and corked it. Tomorrow I'll pitch yeast, and in a few days or so I'll rack it through a stainless steel coffee filter, top it off with sterile honey water, and let it continue its journey to mead-dom. If it tastes like crap, I'll cork it and wait a while longer. Unless it tastes funny it usually gets good eventually.

fatbloke 08-15-2011 09:22 PM

Elderberries, being "red" fruit, are best used if they've been heat processed. It removes/neutralises any sambunigrin in the fruit (mild toxin, though I understand it only affects people with a sensitivity to it).

So just simmer them for 10 minutes or so, unless you have access to a steam juice extractor - damn those were invented with elderberries in mind, I'm sure of it (mine works brilliantly).

The only problem with elderberries, is that the flavour of them is rather "generic fruity", and not very sweet. So I'd just use them and maybe either some grape juice or apple juice, and the honey of course.......

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