Pasteurising Elderberry, Nettle, Cleavers and other juices

How do you make sure you have a year round supply of your favourite herbal power shots and wild juices? Pasteurising is the best way to ensure you can keep them without buying a second fridge, although they must be refrigerated once opened. If like me you love the sight of larder shelves groaning with bottles and jars, labeled with mysterious handwritten labels, then pasteurising your own juices is definitely for you!

Pasteurised fruit and herb juices can be made by heating the extracted, filtered juice and then hot-filling it into sterilised bottles. This method works perfectly well and is a lot easier to do in a domestic kitchen than heating or baking the already filled bottles! Ironically, I have found that elderberry juice pasteurises itself when the juice is extracted by boiling to make elderberry syrup. This makes a really rich juice that is excellent for cooking.

Heat the juice in a stainless steel pan* to 80-95 degrees C for 1 to 10 minutes. The exact time can vary according to the fruit. I prefer using a lower heat as I think that this preserves more of the beneficial properties of the juices. The length of time depends on the size of bottle that you are then going to fill. As a rule of thumb – and this has worked for all the wild juices I have tried – allow:

10 minutes at 80 degrees when filling 0.33 cl bottles (330 ml)

15 minutes at 80 degrees when filling 0.50 cl bottles (500 ml)

20 minutes at 80 degrees when filling 0.75 cl bottles (750 ml)

Check your temperature with a cooking thermometer and make sure you sterilise your bottles. It’s that simple!

If you do decide to go into small scale production, drill a hole in a stainless steel bucket and attach a tap (or two) to make a very effective bottle filler.

* A stainless steel saucepan is best as the fruit acidity reacts with aluminium. Although leaf juices are not so fussy it is best to avoid using aluminium as there is early evidence that aluminium contamination can be linked to Alzheimer’s disease and some cancers.

What do you think?