Make the most of the hedgerow harvest with my Elderberry & Port Jelly – delicious on a scone or try in a savoury dish and make a fruity jus or meat glaze!
Elderberry & Port Jelly – this fruity seedless jam is delicious on toast or a buttermilk scone and it’s equally good with cooked or cold meats too as it pairs perfectly with beef, pork, lamb and poultry. Simply add it to your gravy or jus as you would when using redcurrant jelly.
It’s all go here at the Kitchen Shed, jams and chutneys have been made and packed away in the pantry and we’re still facing what feels like a mountain of courgettes. My tomatoes are coming into their own at last after their poor start at the beginning of summer. The Scotch Bonnet chillies and butternut squashes are growing quite nicely and should be ready late September, I’m hoping for an Indian summer this year just to make sure.
Despite being busy I couldn’t resist picking the elderberries from the Elder trees in our field. Even though we picked the flowers in early summer to make Elderflower Liqueur, our trees were still packed with more than enough berries for us and the birds.
We waited patiently for the elderberries to ripen as it’s important to pick them when they’re fully ripe because unripe fruits can cause tummy upsets. To make the most of your foraged fruit, see my Harvesting Elderberries post for other recipes and more details on what to look for when picking.
I like to add preserves to my Christmas hampers, especially the more unusual ones you don’t find in the shops, as it makes the hampers a little more special. I think a pot or two of my Elderberry and Port Jelly will find their way into the hampers this year.
Elderberries are low in pectin and acid (both of which are essential in a good jelly) so I’ve used the juice and peel of a lemon and jam sugar to get a delicious wibble wobble jelly.
Included in the selection of Whitworths’ sugars I received as a prize for my Sweet Chilli Jam recipe was a jam sugar, perfect for use with fruits low in pectin. Although I generally use Whitworths’ packets of pectin, using the jam sugar was much easier as the sugar and pectin were already mixed in the correct ratio.
Elderberries are quite tart and I have in the past used apples to sweeten the flavour of the jelly (apples also add essential acid and pectin) but this tended to mask the full flavour of the elderberries. Adding port to the jelly maintained and enriched the essential elderberry flavour whilst improving the jelly’s sweetness.
You do need a lot of fruit when making a jelly as the strained fruit is discarded so there’s never the same quantity of jelly as there would be when making a jam with the same weight of fruit. I find the availability of fruit is never a problem with elderberries as they’re so prolific. That said, don’t be tempted to use more than the 2 kg recommended in the recipe as it will affect the setting of the jelly; if you have more elderberries, make your jelly in batches using 2 kg of fruit each time.
Jellies are easy to make, you cook the fruit in a little water until nice and soft and then strain for a couple of hours or overnight. You can get jelly bags and stands quite easily these days or you can use an upturned stool as a stand (OH made my stand from copper tube he had in stock but I reckon he regrets it now as copper is so expensive!) and hang a muslin cloth from it with a large bowl underneath.
To avoid a cloudy jelly, you’re not supposed to squeeze the fruit whilst it’s straining but it is really tempting to get as much juice as you can by squeezing the jelly bag. The good news is that squeezing a little more juice out of the fruit doesn’t really make much difference to the Elderberry and Port Jelly as it’s such a dark jelly.
Here’s the recipe in quick printable format so you can have it to hand while you try it out.
Elderberry & Port Jelly
Make the most of the hedgerow harvest with my Elderberry & Port Jelly - delicious on a scone or try in a savoury dish and make a fruity jus or meat glaze!
- 2 kg (4.4 lbs) cleaned elderberries, stalks removed
- Juice and zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
- 500 ml (2 cups) water
- jam sugar (I used Whitworths' Jam Sugar)
- You will need:
- A large preserving pan
- A scalded jelly bag
- A jelly stand
- Optional: jam thermometer
- A couple of chilled saucers or plates to check the jelly has set.
- At least 4 straight sided 250 g sterilised jam jars and lids (jars washed on a hot dishwasher cycle and lids if you’re not using new ones sterilised in boiling water for a couple of minutes.)
- Recipe can easily be halved
- Use an upturned stool with a muslin cloth attached to it instead of a jelly bag and stand.
- Use small straightsided 250 g jars
- Preparation time does not include straining time.
- Step 1 Place the elderberries and lemon zest in a preserving pan with the water and gently simmer for 35 to 45 minutes until soft. Mash well and remove from the heat.
- Step 2 Attach the jelly bag to its stand and place over a large bowl. Pour the contents of your preserving pan into the jelly bag and leave to strain for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Step 3 Measure the strained juice and weigh 450 g (1 lb) of jam sugar to 600 ml (2 1/4 cups) of juice. Pour the strained juice into a preserving pan and bring to a simmer before removing from the heat.
- Step 4 Add the weighed out jam sugar and stir, return to a low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, then stir in the lemon juice.
- Step 5 If using a jam thermometer, attach it to the side of your pan. Bring the jelly to a rolling boil and boil until setting point is reached
- Step 6 this is likely to be about 5 minutes of boiling. If using a jam thermometer, 104 C or 220 F indicates the seting point.
- Step 7 To check the jelly without a thermometer, drop a small amount of jelly on to your chilled saucer, allow to cool for a couple of minutes and then push gently with your finger tip. If the jelly crinkles, setting point has been reached.
- Step 8 Remove from the heat and leave to settle for 5 minutes before skimming the jelly of any scum.
- Step 9 Add 4 tablespoons of port for every 900 ml of juice used and gently stir in.
- Step 10 Transfer to sterilised jars, screw on lids and leave to cool. Store in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight and once opened store in the fridge.
If you like elderberry recipes, why not try my Elderberry Tart. I’ve used a rich butter pastry and used a small amount of custard flavoured with Creme de Cassis as a base for the elderberries for my version of this much loved tart. It truly is delicious, the elderberries adding just the right amount of tartness and fruitiness and if you’re like us you won’t be able to stop at just one slice.
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