Elderberry and Apple Pressé
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    Makes about 1.5 litres (about 40 servings)
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I love using up fruits and berries when they are in season, just as nature intended. Then, when the fruits turn a bit squidgy and are not good enough to eat as they are, turning them into jams or a cordial or pressé makes me even happier.

Mother nature gives us many gifts of ‘free food’ every autumn, and a good example of this is when the wonderful elderflowers that bloom at the end of spring, turn into edible elderberries at this time of the year. They are a stunning colour and the tannin-rich taste of these special berries creates the most wonderful pressé. I mixed mine with apples as I have plenty of cooking apples to use up (just cut out any blemishes from the apples and use the good bits).

The main thing to remember with elderberries is that they can be toxic if eaten uncooked, hence boiling the syrup for 10 minutes is important (this also allows the taste to develop more). Once the pressé is made, it will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks, or it can be frozen instead (which is what I tend to do).

As well as the main recipe, I also include some serving suggestions for this delicious pressé, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, so there is something for everyone and the choice is yours. Enjoy!

photo of Elderberry and Apple Pressé

Ingredients & Method

  • 400g (prepared weight) fresh elderberries, stalks removed (berries only)
  • 500g (prepared weight) cooking apples, peeled, cored and roughly diced
  • 1kg caster sugar
  • 1 litre cold water
  • 2 teaspoons citric acid

To serve

  • ice
  • chilled rosé wine or vodka and chilled apple juice
  • chilled lemonade, soda water or still or sparkling water
  • lemon slices, to finish (optional)

Place the elderberries, apples, sugar and water in a large saucepan over a low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then slowly bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and simmer (uncovered) for 10 minutes or until the mixture becomes thickened and the colour turns deep purple/red in colour. Use a ladle to remove any impurities that rise to the surface during simmering. Remove from the heat.

Pass the mixture through a muslin-lined sieve into a bowl or jug (discard the pulp left in the sieve), stir in the citric acid, then pour the warm syrup into warm, sterilised bottles. Cover, seal and cool, then refrigerate until needed.

The unopened bottles of pressé will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Once opened, keep refrigerated and use within a week. Alternatively, freeze the pressé in portions (in freezer bags) for up to 3 months, then defrost and use as required.

Elderberry and Apple Rosé Wine Spritzers (Serves 6)

Pour about 40–50ml chilled elderberry and apple pressé over ice into 6 large wine glasses. Add 125ml chilled rosé wine of your choice and top up with chilled lemonade or soda water to taste. Stir gently and serve. Enjoy!

Elderberry and Apple Breeze (Serves 10)

This is my delicious play on the classic sea breeze cocktail. Pour about 25ml chilled elderberry and apple pressé over ice into 10 highball glasses. Add vodka to taste, then add 50ml chilled apple juice to each glass. Top up the drinks with chilled still water, stir and serve. Enjoy!

Elderberry and Apple Lemonade (Serves 6)

Pour about 40–50ml chilled elderberry and apple pressé over ice into 6 glasses. Top up with chilled lemonade or still or sparkling water to taste, stir gently and serve. Finish the drinks with lemon slices, if you like. Enjoy!