Elderberry jam on toast
Elderberry jam on toast

Why is it every time I go for something, it’s in the middle of a massive nettle patch and I’m wearing shorts? It’s late September, for God’s sake, and I’m in my 30s. Shorts should have been put away about 4 years ago.

But my commitment to harvesting Autumn’s fruits is undimmed in the face of humiliation and pain. I waded into the nettle patches and gathered a huge bag of . Not even the fear of being caught by Peckham’s famously rugged park rangers could deter me.

And then I spent many long hours stripping the berries from the stalks and staining my fingers a glorious shade of purple. If you’re going to have anything to do with elderberries, wear long trousers and an old t-shirt because these fruits are determined to ruin your body and clothes one way or another.

My trusty guide to preserving all things transient, the Good Housekeeping Complete Book Of Preserves, didn’t have a recipe for elderberry jam but it did offer elderberry and blackberry jam. So I employed my creativity and adapted that to make this extremely sticky, very purple jam.

Elderberry jam
Makes approximately 600g

700g elderberries, stripped from the stalk weight, washed and drained thoroughly
Juice of 1/2 lemon
700g caster sugar

1  First, sterilise your jam jars – you’ll need enough to hold about 600g of jam.

2 Place the elderberries and lemon juice in a large pan and heat over a medium heat until the juices start to run. Bring slowly to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface.

3 Add the sugar and stir it in until it’s completely dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for about 10 minutes until the jam reaches setting point.

Two things to note here: the jam will bubble up so you do need to use a big pan (a preserving pan, if you have one). I didn’t and had to hastily transfer half-made hot jam into a larger pan without scalding myself. Not easy. Setting point is about 105°C, so if you have a sugar thermometer you can measure it that way. Alternatively, put a couple of saucers into the freezer and after 10 minutes, spoon a blob onto a cold saucer. Leave it for 10–15 seconds, then push with your finger. If it has formed a skin and wrinkles when you push, it has reached setting point. Take the jam off the heat when you’re doing this test, in case it burns while you’re pushing jam around a saucer.

4 Spoon the jam into the warm sterilised jars. Keep somewhere cool and dark.

Tagged with: ElderberriesEnglishForagingJams

24 Responses to Elderberry jam

  1. Helen says:

    Love, love, love those elderberries! I had no idea Peckham’s park rangers were famously rugged. Where have I been?! Not in the park near closing time obviously. I want to see one now. It has become an ambition.

  2. Sue says:

    I didn’t have my long trousers on when I got stung alive while picking blackberries but made a yummy blackberry and apple pie. Benefits outway the stinging;)

  3. shayma says:

    gorgeous photo. gorgeous.

  4. […] of the real dish) and if he didn’t like it, there was always rice pudding with Peckham elderberry jam and lashing of cream for dessert. You can read Food Urchin’s review […]

  5. shinyfluff says:

    This jam came out really well. The first time I tried to make it I became distracted and burnt the sugar within the jam a bit. However, it added a nice caramelized taste to the finished jam. This time I stayed on target and potted 4 small jars! My husband and I both love it! This recipe has the additional benefit of being simple, without lots of straining and jelly bag nonsense. thanks!

  6. angelina says:

    I’m definitely going to give this a try. Our elderberries are just ripening :o)

  7. Nina V says:

    I made elderberry vodka earlier in the year and popped the drunken elderberries in the freezer.
    Freezer space was getting to be a premium so I used them today (once well rinsed) to make this jam.
    Too easy!
    Thank you. Scraping/tasting some jam from inside the pot suggests it’s delicious, and won’t last long. 🙂

  8. Dawn says:

    Harvest the nettles too!!!

  9. Colette says:

    Hi I’ve recently made plum jam but added elderberries, onc cooled I’ve noticed yellow seeds in the jam, did you find that your jam had the elderberry seeds and did it detract from the taste?

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      I didn’t notice seeds in the jam above, but it is so long ago I can’t properly recall. I will have to make it again this year when the elderberries are ready! It’s generally safer to cook the berries from the black elder, so it would probably be better to add the berries to the jam while it is cooking.

  10. Ayshea says:

    How many jars – and what size of said jars does this recipe require. Excuse the laziness but my conversion rate is historically poor !

  11. Kate says:

    I have a question, it says on other pages that the stalks and seeds of elderberries are toxic?? Has anyone else heard this?
    Am wondering if should do the jelly bag faff?

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      There are toxins present in the unripe and raw berries, so it is best to cook them as that destroys the toxins. Once you’ve cooked them up, they should be safe to eat. And definitely don’t eat the leaves or bark.

    • Sandy says:

      Just be sure to cook first

  12. Ross says:

    Great recipe! Many thanks. Have just made some with the 2017 crop hanging over from my neighbours garden.

  13. chris says:

    Elderflower homemade wine is also delicious. It is one or the other from the same bushes

  14. Kim says:

    I am from Maine in the USA and our trees aren’t bothered by dense brush so it is easy picking. I made your recipe last year and EVERYONE now loves elderberries. Around here it is like a lost thing of the past so I am delighted to share it with people and renew this wonderful berry.

  15. dorothy healy says:

    are the seeds safe when they are in jam?

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