Thanks to our dear friends Hande and Theo we discovered the beauty of Lake Neusiedl in Austria six or seven years ago. Ever since we made it a habit to annually meet there during late summer, to indulge in the world’s best tomatoes, some fab wine and seriously good food.
Our favourite place to stay is Domizil, right in the tiny wine village Gols. The lovely owner Ria once served us her mother’s beloved Kardinalschnitten (a very traditional Austrian cake), which turned out to be the very best I ever ate. I had three servings – FOR BREAKFAST that is! No real surprise here, after all they were made with countless eggs from her mother’s own hens, baked in the early morning before 6 o’clock, obviously with plenty of love and dedication!
Besides the aforementioned must-dos, I always make sure to bring two large containers to Gols. Within short walking distance from our hotel are many incredible fruitful elderberry bushes to be found – always perfectly ripe. So we rarely leave Lake Neusiedl without loads of elderberries to be turned into this divine jelly. Forget the praised health benefits, we love it for its exquisite flavour alone… tastes sublime not only on bread and toast, but on pudding, ice cream or yogurt, too. But you got to hurry up, their season is coming to an end fast! (a word of warning: the raw berries are mildly toxic, never consume uncooked!)
Sterilize the jars: Put clean and empty jars with separate screw lids in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes. Carefully remove them (I use my BBQ tongs), place them on clean kitchen towels and fill them with the boiling hot jam immediately. Besides you could sterilize clean jars and lids in a hot oven at 110 °C (230 F) for 5 to 10 minutes before filling them with the hot jam.
Prepare the jelly: Remove the nice plump and black berries from their stems (discard stems as well as any shrivelled or still unripe green berries) and rinse them thoroughly under cold water. Then heat the berries in a large pot for a couple of minutes until they burst and release their juice. You can speed up the process with a handheld blender, but make sure to only use it on its lowest setting, to avoid damaging the seeds (which may result in bitter tasting jelly). Pass the berry puree either through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth (it will be brightly colored afterwards!) or a food mill like Flotte Lotte and discard the pulp.
Measure the strained juice (mine was about 650 ml) before pouring it back into the cleaned pot and add a little more than the same amount of preserving sugar 1:1 (725 g). Bring to a rapid boil and let cook for 5 minutes while continuously stirring. When drizzling some jelly on a cold plate, it should set within a couple of seconds, otherwise keep boiling for a few more minutes.
Fill the jars: Fill the sterilized jars with boiling hot jelly using a funnel tube, if you own one, leaving about one centimeter of head-space. Try not to spill any jelly on the edges, because it’s crucial to work as clean as possible. Close jar with the lid (a tea towel helps to protect your hands) and let cool completely. Store labeled jars in a dark and cool place – given a vacuum has developed – for up to one year.
Tip: I tried different variations of this jelly in the past, with added grape or apple juice, scraped out vanilla seeds or lemon juice & zest. Yet this pure jelly version with only two ingredients remains our favourite.
Recipe source: own creation
Prep time: ~45min.
Ingredients (yields ~900 ml):
~1 kg elderberry clusters
700-800 g preserving sugar 1:1 (amount depending on strained juice, see steps)