Well, I went home to visit my parents at their lovely farmhouse in the country. They have a pervasive growth of elderberries beside their barn, which has been mowed over several times in my memory yet still persists. Occasionally, the berries would flourish and we would enlist my dear grandmother to make some jelly, but this year, we tried it on our own. And it was, at first, an extravagant failure! We followed the recipe to a T, and after the canning process we discovered, to our dismay, the jelly was the consistency of maple syrup. We had written out fancy little labels for the jars and everything. We studied the richly colored, beautiful syrup, tapping our chins as we tried to think of a solution. Finally, we decided to open all 32 jars, dump the syrup into a pan, add some more pectin, and give it another go. Success! The jelly turned out beautifully, and we didn't have to write out 32 new labels! The recipe we used is as follows, including our belated addition of more pectin:
7 1/2 cups of elderberry juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 pkgs pectin (we used Sur-Jel)
9 cups sugar
If, like us, you are working with freshly picked elderberries (and let's face it, who buys elderberries?) they need to be cooked, crushed, and strained to separate the juice from the seeds and skins. Then, heat the juices and pectin until boiling. Add the sugar and continually stir until boiling again. When it is at a full, rolling boil time it for two minutes. Remove from heat, fill clean jars, cap them, and boil in a hot water bath for five minutes. As they cool they will seal. Oh, and we boiled the tops also to sanitize and soften them before we capped the jelly. The jelly has a rich flavor that, in my humble opinion, surpasses grape jelly, which my grandma also made yearly as I was growing up. I feel like I resurrected a dying art! I feel independent and capable, knowing that if our world had an apocalyptic disaster, I would still be able to produce a sumptuous sweet treat that would last the winter...or rather, would be able to if I knew how to procure pectin independently. And also sugar...but in any case, I have no doubt that if that sort of thing happened, Mom's elderberry bramble would endure.