Here is our recipe (well my Grandmothers actually) for Blackberry and
Elderberry wine. This makes a lovely warming drink around Yule (although
if you can manage to keep a bottle for a year or two, it becomes quite
Elderberries are rich in Tannin and that helps the wine mature
nicely, the citrus fruits help improve the acidity. With the quantities of
ingredients we've given below you should end up with a nicely balanced wine
containing about 10% alcohol.
With the exception of the fruit which you will probably want to
harvest yourself, all of the ingredients and equipment are available
from large supermarkets although there are many online specialist home
brewing retailers if you have any trouble locally.
- 2 1/2 lb. Blackberries
- 1/2 lb. Elderberries
- Juice of 1 lemon (or lime)
- The juice of 1 medium sized orange.
- 3 lb. sugar
- Burgundy style or general purpose red wine yeast (Sachet with nutrients)
- Campden tablets
- 1 Gallon water
You can get by with less, but here is the equipment we would suggest
for anyone starting out (most of it only ever has to be bought once):
- 1 x 2 gallon plastic bucket or bin (preferably food grade white plastic if possible)
- 1 x plastic or glass demijohn (2 would be better)
- 1 fermentation lock (obtainable from any wine-making shop, online).
- 1 wooden or plastic spoon for stirring.
- 3 - 4 feet of plastic tubing
- 2 x muslin bags or cloths.
- Absolute cleanliness is critical to wine making, so make sure all
equipment and utensils are washed and sterilised thoroughly before use.
You can use
Sodium Metabishulphite (obtainable from any wine-making store - even
Tesco do it now). If you can't get that, use babies bottle sterilising
tablets from any
chemist or supermarket. Follow the manufacturers guidelines for
quantities and rinse thoroughly once the equipment is sterile.
- Rinse the fruit to remove any bits - try not to break squash it or you will lose precious juice.
- De-stalk the elderberries and place all the fruit in a sterile
fermentation bucket and crush all the fruit to expose the juice and pulp
(a plastic potato
masher is perfect for this if you have one) but anything that will
roughly break the fruit up will be fine (remember to sterilise any
utensils before use). Don't
use a electric blender, the aim is to break the fruit up not to produce a
- Pour in 4 pints of cold water
- Boil 2 1/2 lbs. of sugar in 2 pints of water until fully
dissolved, then allow to cool before adding it to the fermentation
- Add the lemon and orange juice and stir well, cover carefully and put to one side while you prepare the yeast.
- Half fill a teacup with water at around room temperature. Add 1
teaspoon of sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the contents of the
yeast sachet and stir
briefly then cover and place somewhere warm for about an hour - during
which time it should develop a nice frothy head.
- Pour the yeast mixture into the fermentation bucket and stir briefly to distribute it. Cover and leave to ferment for 4 days.
- After the initial 4 day fermentation (which will be quite
vigorous to start with) strain the wine liquid through a couple of
layers of muslin into a sterile Glass
or clear plastic 1 gallon demijohn.
- Boil the remainder of the sugar (a little under 1/2 lb. ) in a
pint of water the allow to cool to room temperature before adding it to
the rest of the wine
liquor. If necessary, top up with cold water to the bottom of the neck
of the demijohn (you must leave this small air gap). Seal the demijohn
with a wine-making airlock and put somewhere warm (traditionally an
airing cupboard - nowhere too hot though) and leave to finish
fermenting (usually another week or
10 days). Bubbles will stop rising through the airlock and the wine will
start to settle (and even clear if you are lucky).
- If you have the luxury of a second demijohn, siphon the wine off
the sediment (try not to disturb the sediment if you possibly can -
takes a little practice
but the more you can leave behind, the better will be the end product).
- Add a couple of crushed Campden tablets (this deactivates any remaining yeast and ensures fermentation has truly stopped
- it also acts as a mild
- Occasionally fruit wines can develop a haze which prevents them
from clearing fully. There are many techniques for clearing this this
type of haze
ranging from adding pectolase, to fining and filtering. If a haze
develops, what you do about it will depend on how much of a
perfectionist you are the wine
will still be perfectly delicious and drinkable even if it has a slight
haze and since this particular wine is a deep fruit red, you may not
- After another couple of weeks clearing, the wine can siphoned
into bottles (you'll need about 6) Screw caps are most convenient for
your first batch but
even plastic lemonade bottles will be adequate if the wine is going to
be drunk young (though it will improve with age).
- Label each bottle with wine type and date bottled.
Enjoy it with your family and friends.