Tag Archive for jelly

Fast & Easy Elderberry Jelly Recipe

Elderberry jelly is easier to make than some older or modern Internet recipes would indicate. In those recipes the elderberries have to be washed, picked by hand; then boiled, smashed, cooked down and strained or sieved in some way to extract the juice for jelly.

Once the juice has been extracted the real business of jelly making commences. Many modern recipes use either liquid or powdered pectin. Older recipes use no pectin; just equal parts sugar and juice boiled to a jelling point.

Elderberry Jelly

Elderberry Jelly With Toast

I don’t recommend making elderberry jelly by those methods unless you want a messy, time-consuming and finger-staining early 20th century kitchen experience. If you just want beautiful, sparking elderberry jelly without the drama, I’ve got an easier and much faster way to get it.

My secret to perfect and fast homemade elderberry jelly (or just about any jelly for that matter) is the use of a stream juicer.  Sure a steam juicer is an expensive piece of kitchen equipment. But if you do a reasonable amount of jelly or juice making, a steam juicer will pay for itself the first summer that you own one. I would live without a toaster and an electric mixer before I’d forego a steam juicer in my kitchen.

Here’s my recipe for elderberry jelly. Try it my way once, and I promise you’ll never go back to picking berries by hand. Or spend another hot July night listening to boiled juice drip through a flannel cloth all… night… long…


The first thing you need to do is to gather elderberries. Only collect ripe berries. Never use green berries or eat raw green berries unless you want to poison yourself.


Ripe Elderberries

For jelly I usually cut and gather enough elderberry clusters to fill a 5-gallon bucket. Once the berry clusters are cut, rinse them well with cold water and pick out any bugs or leaves.

Place the rinsed elderberry clusters in the colander part of the stream juice. Fill the bottom part of the steam juicer pan with water and then place the collection pan on top of it.

Elderberries For Jelly

Clusters of Fresh Elderberries in a Steam Juicer

Next stack the colander pan over those two pans and put the lid on the entire assembly. Put the steam juicer on the stove and turn the heat on. I always keep the collection tube of the steam juicer in a jar or cup while the juice is being extracted. Even with the clamp on the tube sometimes juice will dribble out.

Steam Juicer

A Steam Juicer Set Up In Summer Kitchen

Depending upon exactly how ripe the elderberries are, it will usually take about 1 hour to extract the juice into the collection pan. Once the juice is extracted the jelly making can commence in earnest.

Elderberry Juice For Jelly

Elderberry Juice For Jelly


Makes 7 to 8 Half Pints

4 cups prepared elderberry juice
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
7 cups of cane sugar
1 pouch of CERTO liquid pectin

Gather and assemble clean jars, lids and bands. Wash jars in hot soapy water and rinse and dry well. If you are going to use a water bath canner start to heat it now. Cut the top off of the liquid pectin pouch and set it in a glass or cup near the stove.

In a 6-8 quart pan measure out the 4 cups of elderberry juice. Stir in the fresh lemon juice and sugar until well dissolved. Put the pan on high heat. Stir the mixture constantly and bring it to a full rolling boil. (a rolling boil is a boil that doesn’t stop when stirred). Quickly stir in the liquid pectin and return the pot to a full rolling boil while stirring. Once a rolling boil is returned, time the boil for exactly 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to rest for about 2 or 3 minutes.

Foam on Elderberry Jelly

Foam on Elderberry Jelly That Should Be Removed

Skim the foam off of the jelly mixture with a cool metal spoon. Rinse the spoon in cold water between skimmings. Ladle the hot jelly mixture into the ½ pint jars and leave a ⅛ head space.Wipe the rim of the jar.

Fill Jar With Hot Jelly Mixture

Fill Jars With Hot Jelly Leaving 1/8″ Head Space

Apply the lid and band. Process the jars in a hot water bath if desired. If you don’t want to water bath the jars, invert them on a towel for 5 minutes.

Water Bath Processing Time

Altitude Time
0-1,000 ft. 5 minutes
1,000-3,000 ft. 10 minutes
3,000-6,000 ft. 15minutes
6,000-8,000 ft. 20 minutes
8,000-10,000 ft. 25 minutes

After processing time is complete remove the jars from the water bath and place them well out of the way of drafts. Allow the jars to cool for 8 to 12 hours. When cool remove the bands and check the seal. Wipe off the jars and label and date them. Store in a dark, cool dry location.


  • Wear a long sleeve shirt.
  • Use an oven mitt while stirring hot boiling jellies.
  • Old-fashioned jelly glasses covered with a ¼” layer of paraffin will seal jelly if lids are scarce.
  • Use cane sugar.
  • Shallow wide bottom pans work best for jelly making.
  • Don’t increase the recipe. Make jelly in single batches only.
  • I don’t always water bath process my jellies. If I’m short on time I’ll just invert the jar for a couple of minutes. I have found that inverting a jelly jar will sometimes result in a lid and seal failure in about 6 months. Water bath processing on the other hand usually gives a 100% seal rate.
Elderberry Jelly

All In A Day’s Work. Elderberry Jelly and Canned Sauerkraut

Jams & Jelly – The 4 Things That Make Them

Homemade jams, jellies, preserves and other jellied fruit products are some of the easiest and most rewarding foods for the beginning home canner. They’re lots of fun for the seasoned canner as well.
Homemade jellies, jams, semi-soft spreads and fruit butters add a special touch to any meal and make an appreciated gift. There are many different types of pretty jars, glasses and decorative lids available for jams & jellies.

Often jelly glasses or jars can be found in thrift stores or at yard sales. Every year I make different types of jelly and jams to give away as hostess gifts or as last-minute Christmas presents.
Basically there is very little difference between the various types of jellied fruit products. They are all made with fruit and sugar and are jellied to differing degrees and consistency.

Peach Jam

Jars Of Peach Jam

There are however four essential ingredients that are necessary to the production of all homemade jellied fruit products.

  • Fruit
  • Pectin
  • Acid
  • Sugar

Fruit gives jellies, jams, butters and preserves its wonderful flavor and beautiful color. Only the very best, top quality and just barely ripe fruit should be used. Fruit furnishes part of the acid and pectin needed for a successful gel.
Sugar is an important ingredient in all homemade jellied food products. Sugar contributes to the gel formation in jellies and also serves as a preserving agent.
However there are recipes for jams, jellies, fruit butters and preserves that use other types of sweeteners – honey, fruit juice, corn syrup, maple sugar and Splenda.
It is my opinion that the very best product is achieved by using only 100% pure cane sugar.

Pectin is a naturally occurring substance and is the agent that causes jelly to gel. Most modern jelly, jam and preserve recipes call for the addition of pectin.
Pectin is sold in grocery stores and bulk food stores. There are 2 types of pectin – powdered and liquid and they ARE NOT interchangeable in recipes.
Fruit that is slightly under ripe contains considerably more naturally occurring pectin than over ripe or mature fruit. The use of over ripe or mature fruit will result in a runny product. This is especially true of jellies.
In certain types of fruit (apples and citrus) there is enough naturally occurring pectin to make a very nice jellied food product without the addition of pectin. Many older marmalade and apple jelly recipes do not use pectin.
Acids help to add to the flavor of jellied fruit products and helps with the gel formation. Like pectin, acid is naturally occurring in fruit and tends to be higher in just barely ripe fruit and in certain types of fruits. Some fruits have very little naturally occurring acid and need to have acid added to them to make a dependable jellied product. Fresh lemon juice is the most widely used acid in recipes for semi-soft spread and jellies.


Strawberries For Jam

How To Use A Steam Juicer

I have found that the easiest way to make juice for drinking or for jelly is with a steam juicer.
The first time I used one was when my neighbor offered me the use of his. After using it just one time I knew there was no going back to the old way of making juice.

A stream juicer is very low tech kitchen equipment.  It is simply a 4 piece pot.
The parts of the pots are:
A capped tube with a clamp. The clamp prevents the juice from flowing while it’s being extracted. The tube will begin to fill with hot juice as soon as the collection pan is filled 1″.

Steam Juicer Tube Clamp

The Clamp On The Tube Prevents Hot Juice From Flowing

There is a collection pan. Notice the little hole on the inside of the pan at about the “10 o’clock” position.

That’s where the juice comes out and flows into the tube.

Collection Pan

The Juice Collection Pan

There is a colander basket which holds the fruit.

 Ready To Steam Juice

Grapes Ready To Steam Juice

Then there’s a lower pan for boiling water. The boiling makes the steam.

Lower Water Pan

Lower Water Pan of the Steam Juicer

And then there’s a lid. The whole rig looks a little like a whiskey still to me when it is assembled.

Steam Juicer In Kitchen

Steam Juicer Set Up In The Kitchen

The way that the steam juicer works is that the boiling water in the lower pan produces steam. That seam is driven into the fruit held in the colander basket located directly above to soften it. The juice then trickles down into a collection pan and is siphoned off into hot jars or pitcher via the tube.
I have found that jelly made from the juice is especially clear and sparkles. It works great for soft fruits like elderberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries and black berries. I’m sure other types of soft fruit will work but I have no direct experience using them.


  • Fill the bottom part of the steam pan with water to about 1″ from the top. Be careful  about over filling. Because if you overfill sometimes the water will spit out of the bottom pan during a rapid boil.
  • Next place collection pan on top of the water pan.
  • Then place colander basket with fruit on top of the collection pan.
  • And lastly place the cover on the pan and turn on the heat to high.

It will take about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours to steam all of the juice out of most fruit.  I’ve found that cranberries are very stingy about releasing their juice.
It is very important that the water does not boil dry in the lower pan. I try to check the lower pan every 30 minutes or so.
Take care to keep the siphon tube in a jar or container while the juice is being distilled. That’s because sometimes hot juice will trickle out if the tube hangs alongside the stove even with the clamp shut and the cap on. The juice that is collected is concentrated and can be canned immediately and processed by the water bath canning method.

 Juice Flows

Releasing the Clamp So That Juice Flows

I add about 1 cup of white sugar to every quart of juice. You can adjust the sweetness to your own tastes. It is really nice not to have to drink juice that is sweetened with corn syrup.
When I reconstitute the juice I add 1 quart of water to 1 quart of juice.
Chill and serve.