This recipe produces a warm, rich elderberry liqueur that will remind you of a tawny Port wine. Elderberries are in many ways little grapes, with a similar aroma, bloom on the skin and color; they even have little seeds inside. So I treated them like winegrapes for this recipe.
You need fresh elderberries for this, although I am sure you could use dried ones somehow. Maybe simmer them in water to reconstitute? And with the fresh berries, remember to destem them all — no stems, as they are slightly toxic.
I’ve tested two recipes for elderberry liqueur: One where you buzz the berries in a blender, another using whole berries. I vastly prefer the method using whole, fresh berries.
Elderberries are loaded with immune system boosters, and the extremely expensive elderberry tinctures you buy in the health food store, you know, the ones with the eye droppers, are really just this elderberry liqueur in a teeny bottle.
I say make your own, then, when you are feeling a bit under the weather — but not yet actually sick — treat yourself to a shot of homemade elderberry liqueur that cost you pennies. Am I right?
- 1 pint fresh elderberries
- 1 quart vodka
- 3 one-inch pieces of lemon rind, white pith removed
- sugar to taste
- Put elderberries into a quart Mason jar and pour over the vodka. Add the lemon rind (make sure the rind has no white pith, as it is bitter.) Seal and put in a dark cupboard for at least a month, or up to 6 months.
- The alcohol will extract flavor from the elderberries over time, so the longer you let it sit, the inkier it will get.
- When it is the color you want -- anything from a Pinot Noir color to downright black -- pour the vodka through a strainer lined with cheesecloth into another jar and add sugar.
- How much sugar? At least 1/4 cup, but to your taste; I go with 1/3 cup. Shake to combine and put back in the cupboard.
- After a few days or weeks, the sugar will completely dissolve and the elderberry liqueur is ready to drink. It keeps forever.