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Elderberry Crab Apple Jelly with Lemon

September 17, 2011

We’ve discovered a field bursting with elderberry bushes; each bush more ladled down with fruit than the next.  It’s amazing to see so many growing in one spot.  Elderberries are a shrub native to North America and they seem to grow abundantly in wet, swampy, sunny areas.  An environment Muskoka provides with easy.


  • 4lbs elderberries; washed and stemmed
  • 1 1/2lbs crab apples; washed and quartered
  • 1 large lemon or 2 small lemons; washed, thinly sliced, and quartered
  • 1 small lemon equalling 4 tbsps lemon juice
  • 1 cup  water to boil with the elderberries and crab apples
  • 3/4 cup water to poach lemons
  • 2 cups sugar; divided
  • 2 cups maple syrup (if you don’t have maple syrup replace with 2 cups sugar)
  1. Place elderberries, crab apples, and water in a stainless steel preserving and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer until apples are soft (approximately 10-15 minutes).  Using the back of a wooden spoon mash the berries and apples to extract as much juice as possible.

    Picture above does not fairly represent the actual colour of the boiled berry really is much more purple ~ poor lighting

  2. Place cooked mixture in a moistened jelly bag to collect the juice. This mixture should yield between 31/2-4 cups juice.
  3. Meanwhile wash, slice, and quarter 1 large lemon or 2 small lemons.  Place lemon slices in a stainless steel preserving pan with 3/4 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar.  Bring to a boil.  Continue to boil lemons until the slices become translucent (approximately 15 minutes).  Add more water if necessary so they do not stick to the bottom.
  4. Prepare for water bath canning. 
  5. In a large stainless steel saucepan combine elderberry juice, poached lemons (including the sugary water), lemon juice, sugar, and maple syrup.  Bring to a boil and boil until the set point is reached; approximately 15-20 minutes.  Note: you can use both the frozen spoon test and/or check the temperature to determine the set.  The jelly will set at 220F.  We do both.
  6. Remove from heat and skim foam if necessary.
  7. Ladle jelly into hot sterilized jars leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, place lids and screw bands on adjusting so that they are just  finger-tip tight.  Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
  8. When the time is up turn off the heat and remove lid, wait 5 minutes before removing the jars.  Check seals, label, and store.

Put up Total:

  • 4 x 250mL regular mouth mason jars
  • 1 x 125mL regular mouth mason jar…a tasty sample
6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 17, 2011 5:33 pm

    I wonder if elderberries grow around here?

  2. September 22, 2011 1:20 am

    Cool! Thanks!

  3. Maria Micu permalink
    June 10, 2013 10:48 am

    Hi Andrea, I am looking for the elderberry bush to make a drink ( like a lemonade). Do you know where I can find an area with elderberry bushes in Muskoka?
    Thanks, Maria

    • July 6, 2013 5:30 pm

      Elderberries like wet areas with lots of sun. There are bushes around Muskoka…you have to keep your eye out for them. The fruit will not be ready until the end of the summer.
      A trick for stemming them is to run under cold water/wash, place on a cooking sheet, and into the freezer. They should more easily fall off the stems.

  4. bill h permalink
    September 7, 2013 8:46 am

    nice recipe!….i’ve been making a similar one for a few years and at the end i either add several sprigs of fresh rosemary ;and let it sit for a while …. take them out before pouring into jars…the other variation is i add a few tablespoons of freshly ground jamaican pimento or all spice kernels… makes a nice spicey variant for pork tenderloin or grilled chicken..
    ( also i believe the dark elderberry is introduced from europe and not native to canada….our native elderberry has small red berries that are pretty hard and inedible)


  1. What to Do With Elderberries - And Here We Are

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