hist-brewing: elderberry melomel

Chuck Wettergreen meadmakr at enteract.com
Sun Sep 9 09:31:34 PDT 2001

 Joyce Hersh <msmead at doctorbeer.com> asked:

> Elderberries are ripe.  Has anyone tried to make elderberry
mead?  Did it
> taste good?  How many pounds of elderberries per gallon should
I use?  Is
> there anything peculiar to elderberries that I should watch out

Just make sure that they are truly ripe. They may be
purple/black, but they aren't ripe until the
"hand droops". Immature elderberries have a nasty glue-like stuff
that floats on top and then
sticks inside your carboy and is almost impossible to get off .
(Takes TSP/wall cleaner to
remove it.)

I'd use a strongly flavored honey as elderberry is pretty stong
stuff on it's own.

I harvest by cutting the "hands" off into a drawstring plastic
garbage bag. Lots of critters like to
hide there so once I've got all I'm going to harvest, the whole
thing goes in the freezer. once the
berries are frozen rock hard, then you can rub the contents of
the bag to get the frozen berries
off the stems. Gloves are recommended as elderberries are a
powerful staining agent. dump the
still-frozen berries out of the onto a washable surface so you
can pick out the grasshoppers, ants,
pill bugs and other proteins. put the berries in a fine mesh
grain bag and tie off. once they thaw you
can mush them up and then add honey and water. I think the
standard of 2-3 pounds per gallon is
too much for an elderberry melomel. It is a very
strongly-flavored fruit. I sometimes blend mine
with spices like basil and sage to add some variety. :?>)

Good luck,

Geneva, IL

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