I have a respectable harvest coming in this year… 15-20 gallons, estimated, on the stem.
What I know (or have been led to believe)
Freezing on the stem, then shaking, removes the berries from the stems with very good efficiency. Then, they need to be cooked in processing (I forget to what extent, but have that info somewhere.)
What I’m wondering… what level of stems are acceptable in processing for juice. With the freezing/shaking method, I can remove all of the major stems with ease. However, what feels like a non-trivial amount of the smallest level of stems seem to be ever present. I’ve figured out a decent way to get rid of most of them, but some seem to persist. So…—— How “clean” do people make the berries before final processing?——
My process for removing stems:
Put a pile in a paper bag.
Freeze in a chest freezer.
Quickly open the bag, agitate with hand, remove ‘empty’ stems.
Repeat if necessary.
When major stems are gone….
From the chest freezer, place a handful or two on an aluminum sheet. Agitate. Roll berries off of the tray. (The berries cool the tray, and condensation will form on its surface. On agitation, the berries roll, but the micro stems stick to the aluminum tray.”
I still can’t get them all. When is enough “enough?”
@LTCider … you sound like me… would prefer to get out all those tiny stem pieces… but that is not easy to do.
I processed a few small batches and did pretty much get out every little stem piece… it took a while.
Then later on I saw a lady on YouTube making a big batch of elderberry syrup (she had her own herbal store… sold it)… and there were all kinds of stem in hers. Mostly the smaller stems… but lots.
Good luck on getting that right.
I made a half ball jar of elderberry /blueberry preserves this year and I keep adding a little bit to my yogurt. Definitely good enough to be worth the effort although as easy as it is to propagate elderberry, I am reconsidering all the native ones I’ve planted and may switch to a cultivar with larger berries sometime soon.
I used a fine sieve and a pestle to remove any stems or seeds with everything. I don’t do elderberries anymore but treated them the same way. I’m drinking a raspberry cordial as I’m typing this. I make mostly syrups. I never eat jam or not enough to even ever finish a jar.
My experience has been to fill the container with water after seperation and throw away everything that floats. I use a fork on fresh berries and avoid that which is not ripe.
Elderberries are definitely time intensive to process if you are picking out unripe berries, all the stems, etc. If you are less determined to get everything out, it is definitely easier but takes more time than most berries given how small they are.
While I’m not sure how much of the flavor and the elements that are reported to be healthy you might loose by not cooking the skins and seeds first, I have found a quick way to remove the juice if you have good ripeness across the head is to freeze the entire head for a few days, then thaw out and put them in a fine mesh bag or some cheese cloth and just wring out the juice. All the stems, seeds and skins are removed at once with this method and it has worked for me when making jelly.
It sounds like processing the stems out will be a mixed bag with diminishing returns. I’m thinking I’ll give it the ole college-try, even if it’s equivalent to a Sunday morning attempt after tailgating all day!
If you think you might do a lot of elderberry processing, get yourself one of those Weston food mills. They make super quick work of elderberries. Seeds skins stems, all of it is ejected you keep the juice. And you don’t have to boil them first. Don’t bother running the mash through a second time, I tried it once and got virtually nothing from it. They’re a highly effective mill.