Juice Cooker

Make your own elderberry-apple-pear juice

mrjones DIY, Featured Leave a Comment

For this my very firstest DIY column, I will show you how to make your own elderberry-apple-pear juice, using a juice cooker. I will attempt to guide you from the picking of elderberries, preparing them (and the apples, pears, anchovies, orangutans and breakfast cereals) to cooking the juice out of them, and store the final product appropriately (for its intended use).

Elderberries on an Elder tree

Elderberry trees are quite common in Denmark, in private gardens as well as growing in the ‘wild’. You meet them almost everywhere – even in urban settings. The specie most common in Denmark is known as European Black Elder (Sambucus nigra) or in Danish: Almindelig Hyld (Common Elder). There is a lot of superstition around elderberry trees. It is the home of Freyja, the goddess of love, beauty, gold, war, death etc. in Norse mythology. It also protects against evil spirits, while cutting down an Elder tree will bring bad luck, unless one plants another Elder tree. Considering Elderberries contain a lot of Vitamin C as well as having a number of healing properties (and keeps mosquitoes away), it is indeed bad luck to cut down Elder trees. Not to mention that Elderberry Soup taste really well.

Warning: Unripe Elderberries are poisonous as is the rest of the plant except for flowers and cooked ripe berries. Raw ripe berries are also poisonous! This warning will be repeated a couple of times.

Apples and pears are quite common in most places, so forgive me for not going into detail with those two. Just know that apple and pear are closely related, and that pear spoils easily (as you will see).

The Juice Cooker is a fantastic tool, and something everybody ought to have at home. Only downside is that you may get addicted to cooking your own juice. Anyway, for those who don’t know what it is or looks like or how it works: Here it is…

Juice Cooker

The Juice Cooker consists of three major parts:

  • The base, where your pour water in. This will boil and the steam will travel upwards, drawing out the juice from the berries in the top part,
  • the middle, the juice collector, where the condensing juice is collected,
  • the top, the part where you put the fruits, berries, whatever you are making juice from.

Apart from the lid, there are two more things here. The tube. And the clip sitting on the tube. This is where the juice will come out. The clip is there to keep the juice in until you tap the juice.

Now, back to those elderberries.

When you pick the elderberries from the tree, you do not pick the individual elderberry. That would be most time consuming. You gently pick the elderberry twigs from the tree, while choosing twigs with many ripe berries (in order to avoid time consuming sorting afterwards). Do not pick the shrunken semi-dried berries (they look like small raisins). Those have zero juice left. And avoid the green unripe berries. Ahh, time for that warning again.

Warning: Unripe Elderberries are poisonous as is the rest of the plant except for flowers and cooked ripe berries. Raw ripe berries are also poisonous!

Also, remember a bag or two to store the berries in. Your hands can only hold that many elderberry twigs.

When you have picked your share, head home. When you get home take a water tub or similar, and pour gently the berry laden twigs in it.

Elderberry twigs in a water tub

Pouring water on Elderberry twigs

Pour water in the tub, and start rubbing the berries from the twigs. Remember to do so gently. The ripe berries come off easily, but are also easily destroyed. They are quite soft. If you managed to get a few unripe berries among the ripe berries, do not worry. They tend to float on top of the water, with the ripe berries lying in the bottom of the tub. Nature has its ways of fixing things.

When you rub the berries from the twigs, do not forget to put the twigs aside; like putting them in a bag. The twigs are good for fertilizing. Also, it makes for less time consuming labour when you have to get to the rubbed-off berries afterwards.

Picked Elderberry twigs - ready to return to Mother Nature

When you have rubbed off all the berries from the twigs, you can pretty much empty tub for water. Remember to do so gently, in order to keep the berries in the tub. Since I was going to prepare apples and pears, I chose to pour the berries into a glass bowl, so the tub was ready for another go.

Picked, rubbed-off Elderberries

Doesn’t look so bad, IMHO.
If a few teeny tiny twigs and one or two unripe berries happens to come along, it is not a disaster. They do not contain juice, so little harm happens from a few. I am just trying to play it safe. And with safety comes this:

Warning: Unripe Elderberries are poisonous as is the rest of the plant except for flowers and cooked ripe berries. Raw ripe berries are also poisonous!

Well, get on with it!

Since the most bestest elderberries were in the top of the trees (and it was cold and windy and cold), I decided to be satisfied with half a bag of berries, and add apples and pears to the mix. Also because I wanted to show that just because fruit has gone partially bad, they can still be used. Just remember to remove the bad parts.

Apples and pears

Yes, they are ugly. But still useable. And one does not throw usable food away. You just remove the bad parts. Since the apples and pears had gone bad, and the only goodlooking apple was a Dutch non-organic apple, I chose to peel them all. This is usually not necessary, but in this case I thought it would be a good idea.

Sliced apple

Slice the apples and the pears in quarters, remove the core and the seeds, and cut the fruits in small pieces. After having done that I had this:

Bowl with apples and pears

It looks much better like that, eh? Well, next step.

Take the Juice Cooker, pour water (for my model 3-3½ L of water) in the base, put the other parts on top of it, turn on the stove, add fruit/berries to the upper part and put on the lid. Now be patient.

Base part of Juice Cooker

Apples, pears, elderberries in the top part of the juice cooker

It takes a while before the water starts boiling, some more before the steam has done its magical work on the fruits and berries. After some time the tube connected to the Juice Collector (middle part) will begin to fill. Then you can start tapping the juice from time to time; it is actually funny – not unlike watching the clothes in the washing machine tumble around.

Tapping the juice

Yes, the stove could have used a wet cloth. Did it afterwards. but too late for the image though.

At this stage you simply have to keep an eye on the process. Notice that it takes several hours to cook out the juices. Also please, do note the following advice:

Make sure the base part NEVER EVER boils dry. Apart from the first hour you should check up on it every 20-30 minutes. Apply common sense at your own risk.

Pour in extra water until the fruits and berries have been shrunk like in the following image.

Remnants, biowaste

The remnants are pure bio-waste and can be returned to nature as fertilizer – or perhaps fermented into butanol or whatever in case you have access to ‘Clostridium acetobutylicum‘.

After having cooked the juice out of the fruits and berries it is time to store it according to intended use. Since I am going to use the juice for brewing mead, I did not add any conservation fluid (like those containing Sodium benzoate). I chose to pour it on a well-cleaned 2 L cola-bottle from the local brewery. And put the bottle in the freezer. Out of 7 L of water, I got 2.1 L of elderberry-apple-pear juice.

2 L bottle with apple-pear-elderberry juice

There you go.

Oh, btw: If you buy a Juice Cooker, go for those in Stainless Steel. Avoid those in Aluminium. A Juice Cooker typically costs between 50 and 400 $. Mine is a 60 $ model.

Author: Kristian Poul Herkild
Visit Kristian Poul's Website - Email Kristian Poul
I'm a 35 year old mutualist anarchist. I live on a small island bordering Great Belt, Denmark and simply enjoy living quite away from urban "civilization". I have quite the interest for sustainability and self-sufficiency and DIY-stuff, not to mention beer, mead, football (soccer), computers (hardware+software) and whatnot.
mrjonesMake your own elderberry-apple-pear juice