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Elderberry wine recipes for winemaking
It’s also our family’s seasonal tradition to harvest elderberries to make elderberry syrup every fall for boosting our immune system. Harvest is usually mid- to late Aug or early Sept. It depends on the year and how early our springs are. We harvest a lot and usually freeze or dehydrate extra elderberries and use them as we need.
In our region, elderberries are plentiful, so we made elderberry wine using an old fashioned recipe
Best elderberry varieties for making elderberry wine
The most common varieties you see are the American Elder (Sambucus Canadensis) and the Blue Elder (S. glauca). Where we live in the west Kootenays of British Columbia Canada, we get the blue elderberries. Many other regions have the darker, almost black, American Elderberry. I discuss foraging for elderberries in more depth in this elderberry post.
This recipe is from the 1976 ‘Winemakers’ Recipe Handbook’.
Although I found a few elderberry wine recipes online, we ended up going with this one as we wanted to learn and understand using a hydrometer and testing the S.G.
Winemakers often mix elderberries with another fruit to make a blend, a common one being elderberry and blackberry.
Many winemakers also use elderberries to add some flavor and color to other grape wines. For our wine making, we chose to only use elderberries in this recipe. That way we understand the base taste of blue elderberries. Overtime, I’d like to play around with flavors. 🙂
- Primary Fermentor *
- Secondary carboy Fermentor *
* The size of your primary and secondary fermentor will depend on how much wine you plan on making. Today’s recipe is for a 1-gallon size. When we made our wine, we used a 5-gallon size (so we multiplied the recipe by 5). We just bought a 5-gallon winemaking kit, (you can also get the smaller 1-gallon wine making kit), as it was easier than shopping for all the individual supplies.
Other wine making supplies
- Nylon straining bag (the size will depend on your primary fermenter)
- Siphon Hose with Shut-Off Clamp
- Hydrometer & Test Jar
- Bubbler air-lock & carboy bung
- A Corker (we have this one) but this is the size that takes up way less space!
Two Elderberry wine recipes
(using fresh or dried elderberries)
Some people choose to make a ‘juice’ and not use any pulp when wine making (which is often heated and will be a different end product).
Other wine makers like the whole fruit method in a nylon bag. Using a nylon bag skips the messy step of straining the berries for the secondary fermentation stage. I don’t know how this recipe would work with just the juice and without the pulp in the primary stage. Even if you use a cold pressed juice you still benefit from having some pulp in the primary stage for flavor and color. Read more info here on how different processes affect wine.
I prefer to freeze the elderberries before using them.
This kills off the wild yeast that’s present on the berries so you have more control of the flavor and fermentation. Traditionally you’d use the wild yeast for fermenting instead of ‘buying’ yeast. I’ve yet to dive into wild fermentation as we’re learning, but one day!