|A typical tree on my first attempt|
The following Sunday I tried Stonegate Fields, which was only slightly better, and then the open area behind Stainbeck Road, where at last I found a couple of fecund trees. This still only produced 2 lbs of elderberries - not enough even for a single batch. That afternoon, without much hope, I drove to Hetchell Woods and walked down Kennel Lane. Ahead of me was a young couple carrying plastic bags. As I got closer, I saw that one of those bags contained elderberries. This was unwelcome competition. I greeted them with "I see we have exactly the same idea", told them my recipe, assured them that there would be plenty of berries for both of us, and then made sure that I overtook them.
Quickly I found a field off Kennel Lane where I saw many elder trees hanging with black fruit. I went in and managed to fill my bags - my worries had proved groundless. This produced far more than the 6 lbs I needed for a double batch. The rest are in the freezer.
Stripping the berries from their stalks took about two hours, during which I listened to a Dum-Tee-Dum podcast. I crushed these in my bucket with a potato masher and added 5 lbs of sugar and 12 pints of boiling water.
On Monday morning, 26th September, I put in the yeast and a teaspoon each of nutrient and pectolase. After stirring twice a day I transferred the liquid into its demijohns on Friday night, 30th September. It is fermenting away and is the darkest of all my wines.