Wild Black Elderberries and freshly picked green pears were combined to make this lovely jam. It is a beautiful ruby color and quite possibly the prettiest thing I’ve ever canned.
In addition to being pretty and tasty, this jam has the immunity boosting, anti-viral power of Elderberries! Last year during flu season, like many Moms, I spent a small fortune on Elderberry syrup and gummies. When the flu did hit our home, my kids bounced back in no time. I think the Elderberry gummies may have had something to do with their quick recovery. I’m sure the syrup would have helped them tremendously as well. If they would have actually swallowed it. They couldn’t stand the taste of the store bought syrup and I must say, it was pretty gross. I tried two different name brands of Elderberry syrup and neither were something that I’d want to put on my pancakes.
This year i have been determined to stock our pantry with delicious Elderberry foods that the kids will be happy to eat. I have canned elderberry syrup, elderberry pear sauce and this delicious jam. I will not struggle to get my kids to eat Elderberry this year. Instead, I will be struggling to keep them from eating all of the delicious Elderberry canned goods before flu season even starts.
If you want to stock your own pantry with delicious elderberry foods, you will probably need to go pick your own berries. Here in the Southeastern US, I don’t recall ever seeing them for sale. But, they can be found all around in ditches, clear cuts and fence rows.
Poke Sallet and several other poisonous roadside weeds are covered in ripe berries at the same time as Elderberries. There are berries that can kill you and berries that can heal you. So please, know how to positively identify your berries prior to picking them.
It is also very important that you properly cook elderberries before eating them. The stems, leaves and unripe berries contain toxins. The ripe berries also contain high amounts of lectins like those found in raw grains and legumes. These can cause stomach upset but are easily eliminated in just a few minutes by boiling. Raw Elderberries are quite unpleasant tasting and can make you sick. So, don’t taste them while you are picking and keep the kids out of the berry basket.
I may eventually write about Elderberry identification and all of the uses of this great plant. But, this post is just about delicious jam. If you need help identifying Elderberries, here are a couple of helpful links:
Pears in the Southeastern US are usually ripe around the same time as our Elderberries. So, combining these two ingredients just makes sense. These Pears came from a neighbors’ tree that was loaded with fruits this year. Free fruit it the best fruit! They weren’t pristine pears, but blemishes and imperfections don’t matter much in jam making. Once they are peeled, cleaned, and cooked, ugly fruits make beautiful preserves, jams and jellies.
There are plenty of wild berries and unwanted fruits hanging from trees in late Summer. So, pay attention to the trees in your neighborhoods and if you spot mature fruit trees, get to know those neighbors. Many times homeowners with mature fruit trees have plenty to share and are quite happy to have people come pick them for free. If, we didn’t pick all of these pears, many of them would have ended up in a pile on the ground. Our neighbor was more than happy to have us haul them off.
Whether it comes from the wild or your neighbor’s yard, you can probably find delicious free fruit for jam making. Once you learn to identify elderberries, you may be surprised how very plentiful they are all. If you can score both free pears and Elderberries, you must try this recipe! Pear jam by itself isn’t usually one of my favorites. But, mixed with elderberries, plain pears can be transformed into something really unique and fabulous. I will be making this again next summer and I probably should make a couple more batches this year… if I can find the time. This is my oldest child’s new favorite.
Yields 7 half pints
- 3 Cups elderberries
- Approximately 18 pears (5-6 pounds) This is the estimated amount needed to yield 4 cups of cooked and sauced pears. If you end up with more than 4 cups (you probably will), the extras can be lightly sweetened for a delicious sauce.
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 cups of white sugar
- juice from 1 lemon
- 1 box of SureJell pectin
- Carefully remove elderberries from stems. The easiest way to do this is to rake them off of the stems with a fork. Lightly crush berries.
- Core, peel and chop pears. The smaller the pieces, the shorter the cook time.
- Combine pears, 1/4 cup water and cook for 15-30 minutes on low/medium heat until the pears start to soften. Add berries and cook for 10 more minutes.
- For a fine spreadable jam that kids will love on sandwiches, work the fruit mixture through a food mill or a metal sieve. Working it through a sieve will remove the most seeds and create a very smooth jam.
- Measure 4 cups of the cooked and crushed or milled fruit. The remaining fruit can be lightly sweetened for delicious Pear Elderberry Sauce.
- Combine 4 cups fruit with lemon juice and 1 box of pectin. Cook until the mixture comes to a full rolling boil that can not be stirred down.
- Carefully stir in the 4 cups of sugar. Bring mixture back to a full rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute stirring frequently. Remove from heat immediately.
- When the jam is done, ladle into hot jars and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes, following these instructions from the National Center for Food Preservation. https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/uga_processing_j_j.pdf