You’ll enjoy the taste of delightful elderberry wine made from the fruit of the elderberry shrub. These shrubs produce an abundance of fruit every summer. Elderberries are bluish-black, and small in size, and they grow in clusters. Wildlife enjoy them too, which is why picking must be done as soon as they are ripe.
By the middle of summer, you can pick the berry clusters and use them for wine, as well as for jelly and juice. The plants grow best in moist woodland soil, along riverbanks and beside field edges and pastures.
The blue elderberry is related to the American elder, as is the black berried elder and the Mexican elder. All of these produce edible fruits. The yellowish-white or white flowers arrive in the late spring or in the early summer, and these will develop into green berries that will change color right before they ripen.
Raw elderberries can bring on nausea if you eat too many, but cooked and ripe berries are harmless, and may possess medicinal value, in addition to making a tasty wine. The berries have mild toxic properties before they ripen, as do the other parts of the plant. The wines made from uncooked berries are tasteful, however. Elderberry wine can also be made with cooked berries.
Elderberry juice is delicious, and it improves in flavor when it is made into wine. Cooked berry wines have more color, as a rule, but the flavor is quite good, whether you use raw or cooked berries. Much elderberry wine is made from home recipes, and they may range in quantity of berries used for each batch.
You will taste the difference in wines with a higher concentrated amount of berries, but they are all purported to be quite delicious. You can preserve the wine color by putting the vessel used for secondary fermentation in a dark place. In addition, using dark bottles for the wine, or storing the bottles in a darkened place, will show you a richer and bolder color.
The less concentrated type of wine is made from three pounds of elderberries, along with water, sugar, yeast nutrient, wine yeast, one Campden tablet and pectic enzyme. The maker will boil water and stir in all the sugar until it is dissolved, and remove the stems from the elderberries. The berries are placed in a bag and mashed, then covered with the boiling water and sugar mixture. After the berries and water are lukewarm, the winemakers add a Campden tablet, yeast nutrient and acid blend. The pectic enzyme is stirred in after about 12 hours. The mixture is stirred daily and fermented for 14 days, then placed in a dark place, where it is allowed to ferment for two more months. They follow several more periods of fermentation, until the elderberry wine is ready to be served and enjoyed.