The elder tree is most wonderful generous to the home-brewer. Not only do the flowers make the delightful, summery, elderflower champagne, but the berries are excellent in wine, both on their own and with other fruit.
I read on the 'ish forum (currently slightly creaky due to recent relocation) that elderberries are almost identical to grapes, apart from the sugar content. I've heard that it's possible to make an excellent wine from them, though I've yet to achieve this myself, partly due to lack of elderberries, partly due to impatience. I have some on the go at the moment, but as it needs at least a year, it won't be ready in time to include in this series of foraging posts. However, grape juice concentrate appears in various wine recipes, and elderberries are the perfect wild substitute. The extra sugar required is less wild, but never mind. I have some elderberry and blackberry wine on the go, but what I'm going to tell you about today is my favourite home-brew: sloe and elderberry wine.
This is possibly my most successful experiment to date, first tried a couple of years ago. From my notes, the recipe I used this year was:
- 1 lb 9 oz sloes
- same of sugar, initially
- kettle full of water, then cold to ?3.5-4l
- mash lots
- remove floating dead grubs
- 2 tsp yeast from beer
- 4? days later (15 Oct), add 1 lb elderberries and the same of sugar, and about a pint of water.
I managed to keep one small bottle of last year's, to see how it matures.
A year's maturing makes no discernible difference to the flavour but as you can see, the sediment does settle out, leaving a beautiful clear wine. This is a sweet, strong, after-dinner sort of a drink. I shall continue making it so long as I can find the ingredients, which should be quite a long time.Also harvesting this week
Leeks (strictly speaking, these two were harvested the week before, to take on holiday with us
Foraged food challenge summary page here.