Bastien gets around on bike, so he sees all kinds of things one doesn’t usually notice when riding in a car. A few months ago, he arrived talking about “sureau,” or elderberries, dangling like mini black grape vines from trees by the side of the road. On a quiet Saturday afternoon while the rest of the world got as quickly as possible from point A to point B, we discreetly rode our bikes to a few back lanes off the main road. Armed with little kitchen knives, we reached to the highest clusters and cut them free. When our baskets were filled, we turned back towards home.
Elderberries, are deliciously dark things.. the stems are toxic, and it’s advisable not to eat the berries raw. But they are actually quite good for the health when used properly. The berries are full of flavor and antioxydants. The trees were once planted to ward off evil and protect from witches!
Elderberries pair well with pears, and these pear elderberry tartelettes were divine, even though I scratched them together at the last minute with some dough that was sitting in the fridge. I also made elderberry preserves, which can be compared to blackberry preserves, but denser and less sweet. Not really the same at all in fact.
For the curious, here’s a few links with more information about elderberries:Wikipedia An elderberry farm An elderberry forum …
Recipe for Pear Elderberry Tartlets:Sweet shortcrust pastry, rolled and pressed into tartlet pans Nicely ripe pears, about half a pear per tartlet Crème fraîche or sour cream Sugar A few handfuls of Elderberries, freshly collected or frozen-bought …
Preheat the oven to 375°F or 190°C. Peel and slice the pears into cubes and divide among tartlets. Mix some sugar with the crème fraîche or sour cream until it suits your taste and spoon onto the pears. Sprinkle with elderberries and cook until lightly golden, about 20 to 30 minutes most likely.
Recipe for Elderberry Jam:2 kg elderberries (just the berries, not the stems) 3/4 of the weight of the juice of the berries juice from one lemon 6 to 7 250g jars …
Place a plate in the freezer. (This will help to decide when your jam is finished.)
Crush the berries in a large bowl and filter the juice. (I leave some of the berries in the mixture because I like bits of fruit in contifure). Weigh the juice so that you know how much sugar to add.
Add the berry and lemon juice to a large confiture pan, or just a heavy weight saucepan. Bring to a boil, then add the sugar. Bring to a boil again, and check to see if it’s ready to go into jars. To do this, remove the plate from the freezer and let a drop of jam fall onto it. Tip the plate sideways. If the jam drips, let it keep cooking. If it rests as a dot on the plate, it’s ready for the jar.
If you don’t already have a technique for putting jam into jars, here’s how I do it:
Put empty jars and lids into a large pot of water and bring to a boil to sterilize the jars. Then, very carefully put the jars upside-down onto a clean kitchen towel to dry. When your jam is ready, fill the jars one at a time, covering each jar with a lid and turning very tightly. Then turn each jar upside-down and allow to cool completely before touching. I think that helps to form a vaccuum seal. Store in the cellar or a cuboard until opening. I know my jams conserve for at least a year or 2, maybe even longer, but usually it’s all eaten up by then!