This super easy elderberry jam has just 3 ingredients and no pectin. It is the perfect foraging jam that goes as well with toast or scones as it does with a cheeseboard.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- There are only 3 ingredients in my elderberry jam recipe!
- This is a fun recipe to get the kids involved in learning about foraging and nature.
- The taste, elderberry jam is delicious and different too.
- You can’t buy elderberry jam in the shops!
It’s end of summer/autumn now and the hedgerows and trees are full of nature’s bounty. I love foraging for everything from rosehips to elderberries, rowan berries to hawthorn and making full use of the goodies I collect.
Today I’m making a super easy elderberry jam that I think you’ll love as much as I do.
The Elder tree (black elder, ellhorn) has a long and varied history. it is said that Judas hanged himself from one. The Anglo-Saxons thought that if you fell asleep under and elder tree you would enter the fairy world.
Elderberries are the fruit of the elder tree and I use the elderflowers (the blossom of the trees) to make my elderflower fizz, raspberry, peach and elderflower jam, elderflower and apple jelly, strawberry and elderflower jam and of course my elderflower liqueur.
I use the elderberries themselves to make my delicious elderberry chutney which I make every year.
Foraging for elderberries
Elderberries are ripe in late August – mid September here in the UK. You know when elderberries are ripe as that are the deepest purple black you can imagine which looks rather stunning against the red stems (or umbrells) that hold the berries and the bright green leaves of the elder tree.
When you are foraging for elderberries to make your elderberry jam be careful as the juice of those ripe elderberries is a deep red colour and they can burst and splat all over you as you pick them. Leave the white T-shirt at home!
Pick the umbrells of elderberries (that’s the clusters of purple black elderberries on their tiny thin red stems that come together in groups) and take them home to remove the berries from the stems.
Never pick all the berries on the bush/tree, leave some for the wildlife to enjoy. Here is a great guide to foraging from the BBC which tells you all you need to know about foraging for all types of country goodies.
Can you eat raw elderberries?
No, don’t do that as elderberries will give you an upset stomach if you eat them raw. They have to be cooked to be edible to us humans.
Are elderberries healthy?
Yes, elderberries are good for you. They are packed with Vitamin C and antioxidents. That’s why you find lots of elderberry products in the health food store to help ward off colds etc in the winter months.
Ingredients for elderberry jam
There are only 3 ingredients for my homemade elderberry jam and there is no pectin at all.
Elderberries don’t have much pectin themselves but as one of the ingredients in my elderberry jam recipe is lemon juice that boosts the pectin levels so your elderberry jam will set nicely.
Elderberries – ripe purple black berries only please. Leave any red berries and green berries on the tree to ripen.
Sugar – just standard granulated sugar is fine for making elderberry jam.
Lemon juice – I always use fresh lemons for my jam-making, but you can use bottled lemon juice if you don’t have any fresh lemons to hand.
How to prepare elderberries
Removing the elderberries from their stems is the only time-consuming part of this simple elderberry jam recipe. But there is a trick to getting the berries off the stems easily, use a fork!
Just push a fork into the batch of berries and pull gently downwards. You’ll find that all the lovely ripe elderberries will just pop off their stems and into your waiting bowl.
How to make elderberry jam
Once you have removed the elderberries from their stalks and picked out any stray unripe (green or red elderberries) from your bowl and any little bits of stem that got past the fork its time to rinse them in cold running water.
This will just remove any dust and debris that might be on the berries.
Now I use my standard French jam-making method here but this is just my personal choice. I find the French method of macerating the fruit in sugar overnight makes for a far better jam.
I simply add the sugar to my bowl of elderberries and stir it through. Then cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave it on the kitchen counter overnight.
Next morning you will find that the sugar has completely dissolved and lots of juice has been released from the elderberries.
Why do this? Well, releasing the juice from the berries and having the sugar completely dissolved before you come to heat the elderberries to make your jam means that you can go straight to a fast boil and not have to slowly heat the berries and sugar.
The shorter time a jam cooks the better the flavour!
Just add the lemon juice to your elderberry mix and bring it to the boil. You want to get your elderberry jam to the magical 105C setting point.
Do you need to remove the seeds for elderberry jam?
I sometimes sieve out the seeds when I make my elderberry chutney (okay, when I can be bothered) as they can be a little bitter. But to be honest there is equal quantities of sugar to fruit in this jam recipe so it is sweet enough not to worry about.
However, if you really want to you can press the sugar-soaked elderberries through a sieve before you boil up your elderberry jam.
Simply ladle your finished elderberry jam into sterilised jars and you are done.
What does elderberry jam taste like?
This is a sweet/tart type of jam and with the tiny crunch of the seeds if you’ve left them in there as I have.
How to serve elderberry jam
I adore this jam with a cheeseboard, that sweet/tart combo works so well with string cheeses.
Serve your elderberry jam on toast or scones and it makes a good cake filling too for a forager’s style Victoria Sponge.
I also use my elderberry jam as a glaze for roasting turkey or duck and it is great with game too.
How much jam does this make?
I got approximately 500g of elderberry jam from this recipe. Just double up the recipe if you’ve got loads of elderberries.
How long does this keep?
Your elderberry jam will keep for up to a year in a cool cupboard. Once opened store your jam in the fridge and use it up within about a month.
Please Note – We do not usually do water bath or other canning methods here in the UK. Our preserves keep perfectly well without this.
Looking for more Autumnal foraging recipe ideas to try? Then check these out before you go;
Or check out my Foraging section for a whole host of country-style recipes.
Finally, if you do try this recipe don’t forget to leave a comment/star rating below as I just love to hear from readers. Want more Larder Love? Then follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter and sign up for my newsletter too of course.
Homemade Elderberry Jam
- 500 g elderberries
- 500 g sugar
- 1 lemon juice
- Remove elderberries from stalks (use a fork) then rinse in cold water. Put elderberries in a bowl with the sugar and stir. Leave overnight to macerate.
- Pour the elderberry mixture into a deep sided pan and add lemon juice and bring to boil for about 15 minutes till setting point 105C is reached
- ladle into sterilised jars
Kathy Lambert says
Thank you Karen. Wounderful easy recipe.
Karon Grieve says
Thanks for letting me know you like my recipe so much
Anne W says
First time making elderberry jam – I live in a house called Elderberry and there are plenty of elder trees around so thought it was high time! This was a brilliantly simple recipe and the jam is delicious.
Karon Grieve says
So glad you made my elderberry jam and like it so much.
Can I substitute honey for the sugar?
Will it set up the same?
Karon Grieve says
I have never substituted honey for sugar here so can’t really advise.
Heather Richter says
Is it possible to use dried elderberries? That’s all I have.
Karon Grieve says
I have never tried this using dried elderberries so I’m afraid I can’t help you on this one.