Thursday, October 14, 2010
COMING UP: ELDERBERRY FEST 2010
Mike and I were newlyweds when my dad gave us a jar of his fresh elderberry jelly. Mike was immediately hooked. That's the way with elderberry jelly: you either love it at first taste or you say, "Yeah? What's all the fuss about?" But Mike loved it and when my dad was gone, he would occasionally come home with elderberries for me to make into jelly. I had to learn the process by reading the jelly instructions, and even now I research and review. A few years ago, Sure-Jell dropped elderberry from its recipe list, but we can still find it at their online site.
And elderberry jelly (amongst other jellies) also makes Nick's eyes light up. We have quite a few elderberry bushes on or near our property and know of others in various nearby gullies, etc., and he and Hallie plan to prune some of them while they are here. The Fish and Game guy who came last year said he was surprised to see so many elderberry bushes because they usually don't survive in the agriculture country.
So, anyway, I'm getting ready for Elderberry Fest. I have checked my list at least twice:
Stock pot – check
Cheesecloth -- check
Candy thermometer -- check
Plenty of jelly jars – check (I hope it's enough)
Rings and lids -- check
Canner located and cleaned – check
Canning rack -- check
C&H Pure Cane Sugar (no Idaho beet sugar!) – check
4 boxes Sure-Jell – check
Many fresh lemons – check
The weekend's festivities will open with a tour of various local elderberry bushes seeking the fullest, most promising clumps of ripe berries, after which we will return to the house (time approximate) to clean and rake berries from clumps into the stock pot for processing of juice. Following that lesson, we will make jelly in earnest. I expect to make one batch of jelly without Sure-Jell in order to demonstrate "sheeting." After a productive afternoon, a friendly yet competitive game of Dominoes is tentatively scheduled for the evening.
In the event we can't find berries, I have prepared elderberry juice in the freezer. A little apple juice added to the elderberry increases natural pectin and tempers the strong flavor, so I also processed juice from apples picked off the old tree on the Senter property. Not wanting to waste the pulp, I then ran it through the food mill, sweetened it with sugar and added a cup of red hots. Some kind of good!
Oh -- and I almost forgot. Son Clint says he's coming to the farm Friday night to spent some time and share a couple of meals with us. His family also loves elderberry jelly, though Clint has not professed interest in actually making the stuff.
Photo: Nellie doesn't enjoy the hustle and bustle of housecleaning. She waited patiently in a sunny spot while Mike and I both ran vacuums. KW