And is covered in deep purple stains. What do you have to show for it?
Well, elderberry jelly, my new favorite!
Elderberries grow rampant all over the South. The flowers can be used to make liqueurs, and the berries are often made into wine and jelly. When my mother-in-law found a huge mess of elderberries growing in her backyard, she cut a ton of berry clusters off the tree in preparation for our arrival.
And we spent the better part of a day making jelly! I could think of WAY worse ways to fritter away a day (yesterday's massive car breakdown and towing comes to mind).
Mama Bear saved us a step. A trash bag full of elderberries awaited us.
The three of us stood at the sink, picking berries off of their clusters and sifting out the unripe ones.
We ended up with a large pot of berries. I had to try a couple. They were pretty gross... flat-tasting, gritty, dirty. I was thinking that my father-in-law might very well be insane.
We took our huge pot of berries and started cooking them. As they began to break down, Mama Bear pulled out a wire masher and started smooshing them. The smell was... not delicious. Almost like cooking cabbage. But the ensuing mess was looking tasty. The disconnect hurt my brain (and my nose).
After the berries were pretty completely pulverized, the mash was run through a really neat deseeder Mama Bear borrowed from a good friend. The cone-shaped sieve has long conical wooden insert that you run around the center of the sieve, pushing the berry solids against the holes in the side. Almost pure juice dripped into our catch-all pot and stained the countertops a rich, deep purple. I'm sure it would also stain your hair and clothing, which gives me an idea for next year.
And then, we had to take a break for some of Mama Bear's delicious rich buttery crawfish etouffee on a Husbear-made biscuit. It's almost better this way than on rice.
Back to the jelly! The juice was still gritty and gross, but we were about to work some chemical magic by adding some pectin, a cubic foot of sugar, and three gallons of lemon juice. I think.
Then, you bring it to a boil until it foams, and pour the mixture into pre-sterilized jars.
The color is just beautiful, a rich, clear, jewel-toned royal purple. Once the jelly had cooled, we just had to have it on a biscuit. I always say "everything's better with an egg," but this day proved that just about everything's better with a biscuit, too. And I'm not sure an egg would go so well with elderberry jelly.
And no, it didn't taste cabbagey or gritty. The colorful jelly had a nice tartness and was earthy without tasting like dirt. I love it. We stole three jars to take home.
Now, all that's left to do is bleach the entire kitchen.
Now that we've got the bug, perhaps we'll start making more jellies. Eh, who am I kidding - with our 20 square foot kitchen? Knowing my husband, though, I wouldn't be surprised.
By the way, if you've got a ton of elderberries hanging out somewhere in your neighborhood, check out Jeanne's recipe for an elderberry and nectarine crisp over at Cooksister! They're gone from Louisiana now, I believe, but there's always next year.