This recipe for elderberry juice does not have any added sugar. Instead I add a little honey and cranberry juice. Elderberry juice is a great alternative to elderberry tincture or capsules or gummies, which are great but juice is awesome for when you want to sip rather than snack your elderberry goodness. Read on for the easy elderberry juice recipe with step by step canning instructions for canning, elderberry juicing, and no added sugar!
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Elderberries are classically made into heavily sweetened syrup and jellies, which are delicious, a beautiful purple color, but full of sugar. Their flavor is tasty but so tart, it’s hard to find a way to consume it without adding something to make it palatable. This recipe is my answer to this problem.
Elderberry Juice Recipe
You Will Need
8 cups elderberry juice (methods of juicing explained below)
1 bag/about 2 cups cranberries OR 2 cups cranberry juice (ok if berries are frozen from Thanksgiving)
1/4-3/4 cup honey, to taste
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, optional
cinnamon stick, optional
You can juice fresh elderberries a few ways. You can use the traditional steamer for juicing elderberries where the berries go in the top compartment, the water is in the very bottom, and the juice flows to the middle and down a tube into your preserving pan. They are cool pots that do one job- steam & juice- and if you have lots of juice-y fruits and plan on making lots of juice and you have the room to store it, I’d recommend them. Be sure to not let the bottom run dry.
If you don’t have a juicer steamer, you can line a pasta pot (the colander part) with cheese cloth and load it with the elderberries and cranberries if using. Make a large parcel of berries by wrapping a string around the bundle of berries and tying a knot, like a giant tea bag.
You’ll add enough water to go 1/2 – 3/4 of the way up the sides of the berries and you’ll be making a diluted juice this way. This is neither positive nor negative- it is just juice with added water. This may be helpful if you don’t have a ton of elderberries, or if you want to make a lot of jars, or both. I prefer this method personally because I share my juicer steamer with my mom and sister and sometimes it is handy to just use the pasta pot.
Wild elderberries are going to vary dramatically in terms of how much juice they yield and tartness, so you may have to add more honey, cranberry, or water to get a palatable result with either juicing method.
Begin juicing with either the juicer steamer or the pasta pot and cheese cloth method and when the berries seem deflated, steamed limp, and don’t release much if any juice when pressed with a spoon, they are juiced.
Ready to start canning? Do you need a canning equipment list before you begin?
Elderberry Juice Recipe: After Juicing Elderberries
Prepare your water bath canning pot or your steam canner. Fill the water bath canning pot with water, add 5 pint (2 measuring cups total each) jars, and bring to a boil OR fill the steam canner to fill line and turn on low with the 5 pint jars nearby on a towel-covered counter top.
Measure out the juice you steamed into the preserving pan. If you are adding cranberry juice, add it here. If you steamed the berries together, add 10 cups of elderberry-cran juice to the pan.
If you steamed only elderberries, add just 8 cups of elderberry juice to the pan and add in the 2 cups storebought cranberry juice.
Add the optional cinnamon stick if desired, and turn heat to medium.
Add the apple cider vinegar and ginger if desired.
Add honey, stirring to dissolve and tasting at quarter cup intervals. Be sensitive to the idea that maybe what you need is a cup of water, not necessarily honey, if the taste of the elderberry is strong.
Elderberries have a strong taste, and in comparison, I think chokecherries have a strong, bitter taste. That said, sometimes you just need the elderberry juice to be diluted a bit with cranberry or water rather than simply sweetened. I’ve tried the same with chokecherries and haven’t been successful; chokecherries are too bitter without loads of white sugar to be palatable.
Ladle into jars one at a time, apply lids and rings, and either submerge into the boiling water of the boiling water bath with a jar lifter OR set gently on the rack of the steam canner.
Process for 10 minutes PLUS 5 minutes for every 1000 ft above sea level. Remove from heat, rest jars carefully on towel covered countertop. Label cooled jars and store for up to 1 year.