hist-brewing: elderberry melomel

BoB Alley ralley1 at tampabay.rr.com
Mon Sep 10 06:31:40 PDT 2001

Hi, I'm Bob... I'm retired military and spent 7.5 years in the Cotswolds and
East Anglia in England.  Every road and every little farm had hedgerows full
of currents, blackberries, and lovely elderberry trees....

I agree with Chuck, and want to add a few extra words based on what I
learned/did there...

> 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 .

Very true... not to mention that they will be ... sour, I guess... have you
ever eaten a  green persimmon (sp?)... not a thing I like very much... this
may sound a a litle funny, but if you leave your car out a lot, then the
birds will let you know when its time to pick them... just look for a purple
color on your car or on the sidewalks....
Another trick I used, was to wear those cheap yellow lensed blue blocker
sunglasses when driving in the country.  They do curious things to how you
see green, and berries just stand out really well on the trees, bushes,

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

True, I used a gallon in a 5 gallon melomel and that was evough to flavor
without knocking ot the taste of the honey.  Also, because of what I suspect
is tannen in the skin, help me out guys, I made a fairly sweet batch to
start with, 4 pounds of honey per gallon of water.  All I had available was
clover honey ...
> I harvest by cutting the "hands" off into a drawstring plastic
> garbage bag. Lots of critters like to
> hide there

Yes they do.  I use 5 gallon plastic fermenting bins to pick them into.  I
suggest getting the critters out earlier and what I did was to get them home
and put a common garden hose into the bucket and let it overflow for
awhile... eventually all the bugs will float out and they berries are washed
and ready to freeze.

Gloves are recommended as elderberries are a
> powerful staining agent.
Guraranteed to run anything they come into contact with!

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. :?>)

My last suggestion, instead of coloring a starining bag, I used a clean
muslin pillowcase, Washed, bleached, and rerinsed before using... AND rubber

put the berries on top of the pillowcase, not inside.  This strains through
both layers of cotton muslin.  Does a great job for me.  If you have a
double sind, you can strain right there and put the berries right into the
garbage disposal if you have one.  Very handy.... Also the melomel will take
longer to fully age than normal, something I attribute possibly to tannins,
don't know, ask someone with more bery experience.  Either way, ther you
have my simple suggestions.

As with Chuck, Good luck, and good drinking,

Bob Alley

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