Elderberries make a delicious jelly.
image by OldGreySeaWolf: morguefile.com
Gardeners growing elderberry shrubs enjoy a plentiful harvest of elderberries at the end of the summer. After picking the elderberries, it is time to decide what to do with the bountiful harvest. An obvious choice is elderberry jelly. Make a batch or two so you can enjoy the taste of summer all through the year.
Gather approximately 4 lbs. of elderberries on the stem, and place them in a colander. Rinse well under running water, and remove the berries from the stems. As you are rinsing and removing the berries, discard any berries that are green or partially green. Work until you have 3 lbs. of loose elderberries in the colander. Rinse them one more time to finish preparing them.
Prepare the water process canner by filling it with water and placing it on a burner. Heat the water to boiling. Wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water and rinse them well. Place the jars into the canner to sterilize them while you prepare the jelly.
Place the jar lids into a small saucepan filled halfway with water. Place the saucepan on a burner, and warm the water to just under a simmer. Turn the heat off when it simmers and set aside.
Place the prepared elderberries in the large pot, and crush them with the potato masher. Place the pot on the burner set to medium. Slowly heat and crush the elderberries until they boil. Turn the heat down to simmer, and cook for 15 more minutes, stirring often. Remove the pot from the stove after 15 minutes.
Stir in 1/4 cup lemon juice. Pour the elderberries through a strainer to get 3 cups of elderberry juice. Place the juice back into the large pot, and add the package of pectin. Boil the juice and pectin mixture and add 4 1/2 cups sugar. Boil for one more minute, and then take the pot off the burner. If any foam accumulates at the top of the mixture, skim it off with a spoon.
Remove the jars from the canner, and pour the prepared jelly into the jars. Leave 1/4-inch of headspace at the tops of the jars, and wipe the rims clean with a wet paper towel. Place a jar lid (from the saucepan) onto each jar, and place a band onto each jar. Tighten the jar band by hand only; do not overtighten.
Place the filled jars back into the canner, making sure the water completely covers the jars. When the water returns to a boil, set a timer for 10 minutes. Remove the jars from the canner after 10 minutes, and allow them to cool on the counter for 24 hours.