Preparing Elderberries for Recipes

This post is about Preparing Elderberries for Recipes.  I originally harvested them and just tossed them in the freezer for future processing.  That future processing is what we will cover today.

Timeline

I harvested my elderberries on September first.  I left them on the stem, removed any bugs I found, washed them, put them in a clean garbage bag, and tossed them in the freezer.  On December 30th, I pulled them out of the freezer to prepare them for my recipes.

Time

The reason I did not immediately process the elderberries is that I was swamped with everything ripening and needing attention all at once.  Freezing the elderberries allowed me to push some work off to a later date when I wasn’t that busy.

The Bag

Preparing Elderberries for Recipes

Preparing Elderberries for Recipes

As I stated a few moments ago, the elderberries were stored in a clean garbage bag.  It was one of those large 55-gallon clear trash bags.  The elderberries are a mix of several varieties including Johns, Adams, Nova, and American.  I also labeled the bag with “Elderberries 2016” so that I would know at a later date exactly what I had in the bag and how long it had been in the freezer.

Don’t Defrost

Elderberries are easy to work with raw if they have not been frozen.  They are also easy to work with once they have been frozen, if you keep the frozen.  However, they get mushy when they have been defrosted, so once they have been frozen, keep them frozen for the processes described in this post or it will get very messy.

The way I do this is I take out of the bag only what I can work with in fifteen minutes or so and I put the bag back in the freezer.  I process what I removed from the bag, put the processed elderberries in a labeled 1 gallon Ziploc bag and back in the freezer they go.

Processing

Preparing Elderberries for Recipes

Preparing Elderberries for Recipes

The processing the elderberries involves removing all shriveled up elderberries and any stems.  There should be no stems in your processed elderberries at all as they can be toxic.  You also want to remove any green elderberries, leaving only fully ripe elderberries in your bag.

Preparing Elderberries for Recipes

Preparing Elderberries for Recipes

Rinse Later

We will give one final rinse on the elderberries at a later date, right before we use them.  Do not rinse them now before they go back in the freezer as they will make a huge ice chunk.  The elderberries will freeze together a little, more or less depending on how defrosted they became while you were processing them.

Picking Stems

The way I process elderberries is I just pull out the amount I’m going to process and put into a colander.  Then I pull the berries off the stems and drop them back in the colander.  The stems get placed in a bowl I have off to the side and they will go in the compost pile later.  Keep pulling stems until they are all removed.  While removing stems, also removed any bugs or green elderberries that you see.  Remember, the only thing we want left is very ripe elderberries.

Store or Use

Preparing Elderberries for Recipes

Preparing Elderberries for Recipes

At this point you can use them after a quick rinse, or you can store them as I talked about earlier by putting them in a 1-gallon bag and re-freezing them for future use.  I have five one gallon bags in the freezer that I will be cooking with over the next few weeks.  I’ll video them so you can see what I do with the elderberries.

Cleanup

Elderberries can leave a big stain if you are not careful.  If you get them off of the counter or floor quickly, they usually clean up with just a little cool water.  If they get smeared into a surface or sit too long, you may need a bleach and water solution to get stains out.  I have a white Corian counter top that really sucks up elderberry juice.  But the bleach and water solution and about a two-minute soak seems to clean it up completely.

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