When I harvested all the elderberries, I thought about juicing all of them and canning the juice but that’s a lot of heat and less heat usually means more nutrients are retained. It takes 55 – 60 hours per load to freeze dry 4 trays of them and by the time the oil is changed and the freeze dryer is defrosted, that’s another 8 – 10 hours unless I use the automatic defrost which takes more electricity. Rarely do I use the auto defrost feature.
So, I had to end up freezing a lot of the elderberries. It’s easier to clean them if they’re frozen. I cut them in clusters, rinse them, let them dry in the colander for a while, then put them in bins and freeze them. When it’s time to freeze dry them, I put the berries, stems and all, into a plastic container with a lid, shake and shake and shake. Most of the berries come off the stems and end up in the bottom of the container. The stems and debris mostly ends up on top and I can pick that out. There’s still plenty of tiny pieces of debris but I’ll either use the steam juicer or strain that out of the juice when I’m ready to make syrup or jelly with the berries.
With the extra turkeys we bought, I had to move the berries around and make room in the freezers so I started freeze drying them . . which should have already happened.
Each load (4 trays) in the freeze dryer gives me two half gallon jars and about 1 pint of berries. I have four more loads to run through the freeze dryer so, when those are done, along with what I had already freeze dried, I should end up with a total of 14 half gallons of freeze dried elderberries.
That’s a lot from two shrubs that were planted two years ago!