I have enjoyed plenty of other people’s homebrewed elderberry wines, but never made my own, so last weekend we went for it. I had picked dozens of gallons of elderberries in October with a friend, who suggested we pick while we could, freeze the berries, and subsequently brew when we could. I meant to brew that wine many a time throughout the fall, but life was just so darn busy. The final motivation came when I had no more room in my freezer and couldn’t find the frozen pie cherries. It was time. Our homebrewing buddy came over on a rainy day with his gigantic brewing pot, and we got to work de-stemming elderberries.
Something I have found to be true about wildcrafting is that you have to be prepared for tedious work. It is not helpful to weigh your time inputs, you just have to do it because you enjoy it. Sometimes I think about what I would do with my time if life weren’t so busy, and the answer is usually brewing and cooking all kinds of decadent things out of wild plants. It really all comes down to time. When I do spend time making something from wildcrafted plants, I always feel like I’m living out my dream. On this particular day, de-stemming 30 Lbs of elderberries and boiling it up into a 7 gallon batch of wine made me feel more accomplished than my entire week of work. I think it’s important to sometimes have tangible things to show for our efforts.
With that pot of elderberries boiling away, our back porch smelled delicious. It was very cheering in the cold, rainy weather. I also had my winter conifer tonic syrup made with the rest of the frozen elderberries boiling down on the stove inside, and it smelled great in there too! Once the boiling was complete, we strained the juice out of the berries in their brew bag and added that juice back in to the pot. From there, we siphoned it into our 7 gallon carboy and brought it inside.
“Why is her wine wearing a coat?” you may be wondering. Well, wines need
coats too! But seriously, our house really fluctuates in temperature
with the woodstove and we were having our coldest weather of the year,
so I wanted to ensure active fermentation. Once we finally pitched the yeast, the fermentation was VERY vigorous, so I think the coat was a good move. Our friend said that fermenting elderberry wine would smell terrible, like rhinoceros farts, and this may be true, but I am looking forward to the finished result.
Recipe for a 7 gallon batch of Wild Elderberry Wine