Dried Elderberries

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Dried Elderberries

Postby jkp » Mon Oct 26, 2015 04:05

Hi all

I plan to brew GA's Elderberry Imperial Stout using some dried Elderberries as I can't get fresh berries or juice. In preparation I have a packet of Young's dried Elderberries which I opened today to weigh out. The packet is within it's best before date(do these things actually go off?).

I've never used dried Elderberries before and I'm surprised by the smell of them. The first aroma that came from the packet was a musty smell rather like dog hair :shock: but once you get your nose right into the berries there is a rich and intense dark fruit aroma much like a full bodied red wine. Is this musty smell normal for dried Elderberries? Should I be worried?

At the moment I'm quite torn on whether to use them or not. Should I wash them before using or perhaps rehydrate them and discard excess water? I was just going to put them in at the start of the boil, so I assume they don't need cooking first.

I don't want to lose any of their flavour, but would like to be sure that my beer won't smell like an old dog. Any suggestions greatly appreciated!

Jon

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Re: Dried Elderberries

Postby jkp » Mon Oct 26, 2015 11:58

Update: I decided to rehydrate them first before using. After a good few hours the water has turned a deep dull red colour, but the berries seem not to be absorbing the water yet. The smell seems to have improved greatly. Tasting the water it is very intense, I want to say "dank" but I'm not really sure what that means! Not sweet or sour at all, and surprisingly not very bitter. It's not an unpleasant taste, but I wouldn't drink a glass of it. So it's looking hopeful that this is going to be fine.

Next issue is how much dried berries to used compared to fresh. Goolging about I found mention of 1:4 ratio of dried to fresh, whilst comparing dried/fresh Elderberry wine recipes seemed to suggest people use a ratio of about 1:8. So I'm thinking of shooting for the middle and use 1:6.

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Re: Dried Elderberries

Postby LeithR » Mon Oct 26, 2015 21:14

I've successfully used dried elderberries in the past, they make a wonderful wine but you need to keep it in bulk for 2 or 3 years to really get the best from the wine. I have 5 gallons stashed away that I made in 2013. Adding other berries, apples etc... anything that is ready to pick at this time of year is good. All helps to make a very nice wine.

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Re: Dried Elderberries

Postby jkp » Tue Oct 27, 2015 05:10

I left them sitting in cold water over night and they haven't really rehydrated at all. So I've added a small amount of water and brought it to a boil, then let them steep for an hour. The smell is now fantastic, actually rather like blackcurrant. I'm using them today so all looks good.

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Re: Dried Elderberries

Postby graysalchemy » Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:09

If you are doing my elderberry stout then they do need to be added to the boil in the last 20 minutes probably anyway. You want that fermented fruit taste and not fresh fruit, so they need to go in at the start of fermentation unlike other fruit beers where you want the delicate fruit taste. What I was after was a port like element to the beer after all port and stout are a classic. Elderberry beer is supposedly a very ancient brew though I doubt the beer would have resembled a stout. Known as Ebulum it was drunk by welsh druids in the 9th C.

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