Saturday, May 7, 2011

It's an Elderberry Jamboree!

Jams and jellies are some of the top sellers at the Charlottesville Farmer's Market for Dean and Susan. So, we make a lot of it. Right now, we mostly focus on elderberry products, since they have a lot of them frozen from last year, and other berries like raspberries and blackberries have a couple months to go before they'll be fruiting. Right now, we're making elderberry jam, jelly and syrup once a week.

So with the help of my lovely co-intern Autumn, I will demonstrate the art of making elderberry jam.

We start with several pounds of frozen elderberries...

...which we put into the steam kettle. 

Once the elderberries have thawed out and started to bubble a bit, we add in the extras: citric acid, fruit pectin (helps it gel*), and sugar. Five pounds of sugar, to be exact.

Once the mixture gets up to 200 degrees F, it's time to bring out the jars. We wash the jars ahead of time, and stick them in the oven on low heat to dry them.

The handle on the side of the steam kettle tips it forward...

...and with the help of our trusty canning funnel, we prevent spillage. (Most of the time.)

After the lids go on, we turn the jars upside down for fifteen minutes or so to seal them. We usually get about fifteen jars of jam out of one batch.

And that is the story of our delicious elderberry jam! Great on toast. Or on a spoon.

*There's something about elderberries that doesn't like to gel, so we have to add more pectin than with other berries. The jam is usually a little gloopy as a result.

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