View Full Version : Elderberry question

10-17-2005, 09:08 PM
Ok. I have one gallon of fresh elderberry juice here, juiced fresh locally for me. I would like to start up a 5 gallon batch (or a 1 gallon batch) of elderberry mead and have a few questions...

I've seen several recipes for fresh elderberrys and dried elderberrys but not for just the juice. Does anyone have a suggestion to how much of the juice I could use for a 5 gallon batch? (Or 1 gallon)

Also, when would I put the elderberry juice in? During primary fermentation or secondary? Or both? Ha!

Thanks for any help in advance,

10-17-2005, 10:39 PM
I don't know about elderberry juice specifically, but most of what I have read about dark red/blue/purple juices indicate a 1/4 to 1/3 juice to water ratio. It's what I used for my pomegranate melomel and my blueberry melomel.

10-18-2005, 07:52 AM
Quote from Oskaar:

For melomels you'll need to adjudicate what level of flavor you desire and use that as your gauge for fruit additions. If adding to the primary add more fruit because you lose some of the fruit character during the ferment. If adding to the secondary add depending on how intense you want the fruit flavor to be.

The fruit in the primary adds complexity as the flavor is changed by the fermentation; fruit in the secondary keeps some of the original fruit characteristics.

Hope this helps.


10-18-2005, 08:16 AM
Hey WT,

Here's a recipe from - http://winemaking.jackkeller.net -

Elderberry Wine

"Jack, many years ago I made a wine from a gallon of pure, freshly pressed elderberry juice. I did not weigh the unpressed elderberries, so don't know how many it took to yield a gallon of juice. I knew this wine would probably be astringent, but I believed it would in time achieve a balance that would make it enjoyable. I bottled the wine in 375-ml bottles and put it away for four years. I opened a bottle and did not enjoy it, so I ignored the remaining bottles until recently when the seventh year of aging concluded. At this point, the wine is probably the best homemade wine I have ever tasted. The recipe I used is below:" Ben Lebeaux, Lake City, Florida

* 1 gallon of 100% elderberry juice
* granulated sugar to raise specific gravity to 1.085
* 1 crushed Campden tablet
* pectic enzyme
* 1 tsp yeast nutrient
* Montrachet wine yeast

Dissolve crushed Campden tablet in elderberry juice. Cover with cloth and set aside overnight. Dissolve pectic enzyme in elderberry juice and set aside another 12 hours. Float hydrometer in juice and determine sugar required to raise specific gravity to 1.085. Add that amount of sugar (1� pounds) and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in yeast nutrient and activated yeast and cover the primary. Stir daily for five days. Transfer to a secondary and fit an airlock. Excess juice can be stored in a clean soda bottle in the refrigerator with a balloon covering the mouth. After 30 days, rack, top up with the excess juice in the soda bottle and replace the airlock. Repeat this every 30 days until the wine clears. Stabilize and set aside three months. If new sediments have formed, rack and set aside another three months. If no new sediments form, rack into half-bottles (375-ml). Age seven years or longer if required. [Recipe by Ben Lebeaux, Lake City, Florida]

Had you though to inquire exactly how many pounds of berries are needed to to press a gallon of juice?
Knowing this would make it easy to follow the mead recipe's you've seen.


10-18-2005, 12:10 PM
I used 17 pounds of fresh elderberries last years to make elderberry wine and 5 1/2 pounds of berries from the same bush this year to make elderberry mead. The color is about the same, but the taste is very different. The skins of the berries have lots of tannins.

I would go with using as much elderberry juice as possible for your wine. Put the juice in during primary fermentation, just like your would add apple juice when making a cyser.

Brian K

10-18-2005, 04:42 PM
I've just bottled a 5 gallon batch of Elderberry mead which used fresh frozen berries. I ended up adding 1/2 gallon of berries in the primary and after three weeks I racked onto another 1/2 gallon to get more of the berry flavor. Elderberries seem to have a mild flavor so adding some to the secondary will help in getting more flavor in the mead. Here's a link to some pictures
The recipe was
20 lbs honey, clover
1/4 cup chopped rasins
1/2 gallon elderberries, boiled
Red Star Champagne yeast
fill to 5 gallons using spring water
After 3 weeks rack to secondary and add second 1/2 gallon of boiled berries and refill to 5 gallons with spring water and another 3 lbs of honey.
After four weeks rack again and put aside for a couple of months then bottle
The final mead is on the sweet side with a SG of 1.03 but I was aiming for a sweet or sack mead.
The berries are very juicy and I would guess that one gallon of berries would give a 1/2 gallon of juice. The berries don't seem to have a lot of sugar in them, the ones I sampled were almost bland so keep an eye on the starting specific gravity. Hope this helps with you batch.

10-18-2005, 06:15 PM
Thanks for all of your input! This gives me some fuel for the fire.

I think I'll do up a 1 gal batch first to test it out.

10-18-2005, 06:39 PM

I'd recommend that you use fine powdered sugar, not granulated.

10-18-2005, 07:31 PM

I'd recommend that you use fine powdered sugar, not granulated.

Can you give more info on that? I have a straight pomegranate wine I started, but I used granulated sugar. I used evaporated cane juice in a mead, too. I'm just curious.

10-21-2005, 10:45 PM
I started a one gallon batch this afternoon and about 4 hours later it's foaming so much that I can't put an airlock on! Is there a way to slow or stop the foaming or do I just wait until it subsides on its own? Right now it's sitting on the counter with a cookie sheet under it. ;)

10-21-2005, 11:41 PM
Well, I rigged a blow off tube and that seems to be working very well for now. I've never had a must foam THIS much before. My kids are getting a kick out of watching the foam travel through the tube. :)

10-22-2005, 01:12 AM
The only way is to let Mother Nature do its thing. You could refrigerate it, but that's one good way to mess up a good thing. Just put it down to lessons learned and next time leave more room up top ;)


10-22-2005, 09:08 AM
Oh, and don't forget to keep the sides clean so the ants don't come looking for a snack. :)

10-22-2005, 11:25 AM
It's slowed down quite a bit this morning. I'll just leave it where it is and wait till it stops. I've got two other batches going so I'm not in a hurry or anything.

I think the ants have moved south for the winter here. I haven't seen any in a few weeks. Although we are getting frost every morning now.

Thanks again for all of the input. It's always appreciated!

10-24-2005, 09:43 AM

I'd recommend that you use fine powdered sugar, not granulated.

Can you give more info on that? I have a straight pomegranate wine I started, but I used granulated sugar. I used evaporated cane juice in a mead, too. I'm just curious.

I took samples of my three batches of wine I had in process to Pennsic War for the Baron Master Brewers of our household to review. They commented that the wines had a cidery taste that should not be there. At first we attributed it to the use of raisins since the Blackberry Wine recipe had had a ton of raisins in it. But the other two batches had the same thing without the huge presence of raisins. When I mentioned that I had used granulated sugar the comment was "Ah that's the problem". They told me to lose the granulated sugar...

So now I use the fine powdered sugar (be careful because some "confectioner's sugar" has corn starch and you want to have just sugar). I buy it 7 lbs. at a time at Sam's Club. It melts right into warmed fluids very nicely, especially nearly boiling water...

Good luck!