Sunday, September 7, 2008

Elderberry Juniper

A couple weeks ago i was at a farmers market with my girlfriend and stumbled across a stand with a bunch of freshly picked elderberries. I've only encountered them once before and they were frozen and didn't taste great. Intrigued by the freshness and the possibilities of a nice compote i asked to taste them. They tasted a little bitter but had a unique sweetness to them. e Like a crab apple to the apple, they reminded me of a blueberry's distant cousin. So i snatched up all the stand had to offer, 8 liters or so for 48 bucks. I took them home and sat on them for a couple days as i came up with a pairing i was happy with. I thought about pairing them with another dark berry, something perhaps a little sweeter to balance the astringency of this berry but decided to go another route and showcase the berry with the woodsy flavor of the juniper berry. The recipe was quite simple, the only difficulty is in the balance of berry to sugar to juniper. I didn't want any of them to overpower eachother or for any of the ingredients to get lost in the mix. The berries themselves hold up to some abuse and don't breakdown as easily as a blueberry. With the addition of the right amount of sugar i was able to give it the sweetness the berries needed to help preserve it and make it palatable to ones senses but also displaying the uniqueness of this new favorite preserve. I was a little nervous about the juniper pairing but in the end couldn't get enough of it and I had to can it before I didn't have any left.
I noticed the natural phenomenon of these berries wanting to clump together, which is different from any other berry i've seen. Because of this, i decided to only add a little bit of apple pectin powder to gelify the surrounding syrup rather then reduce it more therefore making the syrup to intense. The apple pectin powder is new to me and im still trying to figure out the amounts to add. Its a little less powerful then the other french stuff i initially started using but i happy with the consistencies it has given me thus far. 

Elderberry Juniper Compote
8 liters fresh elderberries
16 cups sugar
4g ground juniper
16 tbsp lemon juice
16g apple pectin powder

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