How to make elderberry wine
Early autumn in the UK is when Mother Nature hands out many free gifts. From the ubiquitous blackberry to less commonly used fruits such as rowan berries, crab apples and rosehips, there is plenty available for the keen forager and home preserver. Elder is a plant that keeps on giving, producing elderflowers for cordial in the springtime and – if you didn’t strip the tree of flowers at that point – elderberries in early autumn. One of the most popular uses for elderberries is to make wine. Read our elderberry wine recipe below to discover just how easy it is to make.
Equipment needed for elderberry wine
To make any kind of homemade wine, there are a few pieces of equipment that you will need. These include a fermentation bucket, clean demijohns, airlocks with stoppers, a funnel, a siphon hose, sterilising tablets and, of course, some wine bottles and stoppers or corks.
It is vital for homemade wine that everything is cleaned and sterilised meticulously in advance. Start by cleaning any visible signs of dirt or dust from all the equipment. You can only sterilise effectively, once you have cleaned your equipment thoroughly. Campden tablets are used for the sterilisation stage and these are widely available.
Elderberry wine recipe
Once you have gathered the ripe elderberries, strip them off their stems using a fork. Rinse them to remove anything unwanted, weigh them and put them in a pan. Mash them up a little using a potato masher or a clean bottle, cover the berries with water and bring to the boil. Let them simmer for 20-30 minutes and then add sugar equal to the weight of the berries, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
Allow to cool and then transfer the mixture to the sterilised fermenting bucket. Add additional water – around one gallon for every 3lb of fruit. Stir in a packet of red wine yeast, a pack of yeast nutrient and a small amount of lemon juice. Mix everything well and leave to ferment for one week.
When fermented, strain the berries and pour the juice into sterilised demijohns. Add airlocks and store in a warm, dark place.
Check the wine regularly. After about six weeks, rack it to remove the sediment and store again, this time somewhere cooler. Taste the wine at this stage; if necessary, add a little extra sugar.
After another couple of weeks, rack the wine into bottles and store. It should be ready to drink in six months but can be stored for much longer.