Elderberry Shrub and Cordial
Recipes for shrubs vary greatly and date as far back as pre-Colonial times. They are simple to make by combining equal parts berries, vinegar, and sugar, then leaving alone to ferment.
Generally, shrubs are poured over ice or served with a bit of sparkling water. By themselves, they are not alcoholic, yet are often added to rum, brandy, or vodka to make a delicious cocktail. For a Shirley Shrub, start with 1 part shrub to 6 parts sparkling water, and adjust to taste.
Since elderberry is an old-time remedy for congestion and sore throats, it makes an excellent tonic for the body at the same time. Elderberries are in many ways little grapes, with a similar aroma, bloom on the skin, and color; they even have little seeds inside.
If you don’t have elderberries, try it with other berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, currants, gooseberries, or a combination. Its key to find apple cider vinegar with the “mother” which is important for fermentation, vs the pasteurized vinegar that is commonly available.
2 cups elderberries
1 cup sugar
2 cups apple vinegar, (find real vinegar with “mother” )
Harvest the elderberries when they are deep purple and fully ripe. Place them in a small bowl, and lightly crush using a whisk or potato masher. Stir in sugar, cover, and allow the berries to macerate overnight. Transfer to a quart mason jar, and add the vinegar. Shake to combine everything, and cover with cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band or twine. Label, and put in a cool, dark place for a week.
Give the mixture a good shake or stir and pour through a colander or fine mesh strainer over a bowl in the sink, draining the liquids into the bowl beneath. Discard the berries, and bottle the shrub in sterilized jars or fancy bottles, with non-metal lids. Store in a cool, dark place. Use within 1 year.
This old-time favorite recipe produces a warm, rich liqueur that will remind you of a tawny Port wine. Serve chilled or room temperature, sipped from a cordial glass. Select ripe Elderberries or wild blackberries, and use this recipe as a general guide, adapting to fit them amount of berries you pick. If you have 2 cups of berries, for instance, cut the sugar in half, and add just enough brandy to suit your taste.
4 cups fresh elderberries ( or blackberries)
1 cups (approximately) white sugar
2-4 cups Brandy
In a preserving kettle or stock pot, place the berries and add 2 cups water, or just enough water to keep them from burning. Let them stew slowly until soft. Strain through a cheesecloth bag, or jelly bag, let it drip and then gently press out all the remaining juice.
Measure out and to every 2 cups liquid, combine with 1 cup sugar. Return to the stock pot, and boil for 30 minutes, to dissolve the sugar and concentrate the juice. Measure, and add equal parts Brandy. Cool and bottle in sterilized jar or fancy bottle. Seal with hot wax or a lid and store in a cool pantry. Sip over ice, in small glasses, or serve over vanilla iced cream.