Sunday 6th September, despite being earlier than previous years, was really my only opportunity to forage for elderberries. Next weekend we are in Newcastle (before Leeds is put into quarantine) and the weekend after that would be too late. I had planned to go in the morning, but we were entertaining Jayne in the garden instead. Here I use 'entertaining' to mean 'making polite conversation and enjoying each other's company' rather than juggling fruit and eating fire.
|Elderberries that made it into my bag|
I drove to my usual parking spot and walked down Kennels Lane, noticing that there was little fruit in the hedgerows on either side. When I got to the field I always use, I discovered that it had been gated: the right of way has been diverted elsewhere. This, though, was not going to stop me! I climbed over the gate and picked the few elderberries there were along the previous right of way. My haul was clearly insufficient, so I wandered along the field side adjoining Kennels Lane, which was far more successful. Every now and again I head a tractor in a nearby field and I kept my eyes open for irate farmers, but my surreptitious plucking remained undetected.
|A view across the field |
As usual I came away with two plastic bags three-quarters full, and this translated into 7 lbs of elderberries. It took a very long time to translate them, though - over 2 hours. During this time I listened to many episodes of Punt P.I., learning about Emile Zola's death and a mysterious low hum that certain people hear constantly. Separating elderberries from their stalks is a dull job.
|7 lbs of elderberries, successfully stripped|
I put 6 lbs of elderberries into my bucket and mashed them with the potato masher. These were covered with 5 lbs 8 oz (which is nearly exactly 2.5 kg) of sugar and 12 pints of boiling water. Next morning I added a teaspoon and a half of nutrient and a teaspoon each of yeast and pectolase.
Putting this into its demijohns was a Friday lunchtime job, so that we could drive to Newcastle in the early evening. I had limited time and was as efficient as possible. Including sterilising my equipment, it took about half an hour. The wine is as dark as ever and is bubbling enthusiastically.
|Elderberry wine in its demijohns|