Many of you recognize elder as a common shrub that grows around ditches and wet areas but may not know the elder had a sacred past in England. The tree was thought to house the “Elder Mother”, and permission had to be requested to use any of her parts. The flowers, roots, leaves, bark, and berries have been used in a variety ways for medicinal purposes, especially to help with colds and flu.
And just in case vampires are a threat, you can bury an elder branch under a corpse or hang a twig over your doorway to fend off witches!
A great way to enjoy the benefits of elderberries is to make jelly from it.
2 quarts elderberries washed and stems removed
2 cups water
1 box pectin
5 cups sugar
Bring berries and water to a boil in a large non reactive saucepan. Simmer until berries are soft. Strain through a jelly bag or cheesecloth. Do not squeeze for a clear jelly. You should have 31/2 cups of juice, if not , pour a little water through the crushed berries. Return 3 cups of elderberry juice to the pan and add the pectin to the juice. ( I add a tablespoon of butter to decrease the amount of foam) Bring to a boil. Stir in the sugar and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat. Skim and pour into hot sterilized jars. Do not fill completely, leaving about an inch or two. Seal jars according to directions.
Picture courtesy of DavesGarden
Jelly recipes courtesy of China Bales Book of Days
I had the pleasure of reading this book before it was ever published. It is 365 days of herbal information, recipes, and lore. I turn to frequently for information. China Bayles is Susan Wittig Albert’s fictional character in her series of Herbal Mysteries. click on the picture for your own copy. I know you will enjoy it like I have.