Ever since I invented this recipe for elderberry lemonade for a pot luck a few years ago, it’s been a favorite drink everywhere I take it. I created the recipe after I published my elderberry book but I wanted to put it online in case anybody else would like to try it.
This is a canning recipe, so you can make a big batch when elderberries are in season in late summer and early fall and then can it for use all year. If you don’t can, you can also make a smaller batch and freeze it or just make it for a crowd.
We experimented quite a bit to come up with the perfect ratio of elderberries to lemons to sugar. If your tastes lean towards more tart or not so strong, experiment to find the perfect blend for your family. This is the ratio that gets the most raves when I serve it.
You might notice that elderberry lemonade is bright red or hot pink, not dark purple like elderberries. That’s because elderberries are pH indicators, meaning that elderberry juice-based concoctions will turn different colors depending on how acidic or alkaline they are. Since this recipe contains lots of lemon (which is very acidic), it’s more red or pink than purple, just like elderberry lemonade popsicles.
This explains why elderberry meringue pie is a gorgeous magenta, while elderberry schnapps is a deep, dark purplish-black (you can find both of those recipes in my elderberry book, with about 70 more).
I have also experimented with adding extra sugar and some wild elderflower yeast to make a natural sparkling soda that would turn into sparkling elderberry lemonade wine if left a few days longer.
If you don’t want to experiment with natural yeast to make it bubbly, just mix it with carbonated water instead of regular water to make your own all-natural soda!
Here’s the simple recipe:
Elderberry Lemonade Concentrate
- 4 cups elderberry juice (see note)
- 4 cups lemon juice
- 7 cups cane sugar
- 6 cups water
- Add all ingredients to a large pot. Meanwhile, sterilize your jars, lids and rings and get your boiling water canner ready.
- Once the sugar is dissolved and everything is mixed, immediately ladle into pint or quart sized canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe rim, add hot lids and tighten rings finger tight.
- Process in a water bath for 15 minutes.
To serve: Mix one part elderberry lemonade concentrate to 3-4 parts water, to taste. Serve over ice and enjoy!
To make natural elderberry lemon soda: Mix one part elderberry lemon concentrate with about 3 parts carbonated water.
To make elderberry juice: Cover ripe, de-stemmed elderberries with water (just to cover). Bring to a boil and simmer until the berries are softened and have released their juices. Mash with a potato masher and strain. If you like, you can then process the berries again with another covering of water and bring to a simmer again. I do this for recipes like elderberry lemonade, where the flavor and color will still be plenty deep enough. Compost the spent berries after the second simmer.
I call this juice first press and second press. Elderberries are so full of healthy and tasty goodness that you can use them twice like this. 🙂
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