The use of elderberries has a long history going back to ancient days. In addition to being used for wine, elderberries have medicinal properties and are good for jellies and jam. There are many different species of elderberry but the most common in the US are American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) and European elderberry (S. nigra). Other kinds of elderberry can be used for wine with the exception of red elderberry that is poisonous. Elderberry wine can be consumed alone or added to other wines to improve the color or taste.
In her book, my paternal grandmother, Helen S Wright, gives several recipes for wines using elder but does not specify which species and perhaps it doesn’t matter. In her own words, here is her recipe.
Take five pounds of Malaga raisins, rub them and shred them small; then take one gallon of water,boil it an hour, and let it stand till it is but blood-warm; then put it in an earthen crock or tub, with your raisins. Let them steep ten days, stirring them once or twice a day; then pass the liquor through a hair sieve, and have in readiness one pint of the juice of elderberries drawn off as you do for jelly of currants; then mix it cold with the liquor, stir it well together, put it into a vessel, and let it stand in a warm place. When it has done working, stop it close. Bottle it about Candlemas.
To buy Old Time Recipes for Homemade Wines by Helen S. Wright Click Here.