Sun Extracted Elderberry Wine

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An easy elderberry wine with just four ingredients, brewed in the sun.


Units Scale
  • 4 quarts loosely packed elderberries (be sure they are dark ripe)
  • 2 quarts boiling water
  • 6 cups cane sugar
  • 1 cup of chopped raisins


  1. This recipe is made in stages. In stage one, you steep the elderberries in water; in stage two, you add the sugar and raisins.
  2. Remove elderberries from stems and pack in a gallon glass jar. Bring two quarts of water to a boil. Make sure your jar is warm (you can set it in a tub of warm water) to prevent breakage. Pour the boiling water over the elderberries. Leave a healthy inch of space at the top, because they will swell and expand.
  3. Make a plastic liner for the metal cover. Put the cover on loosely (enough to keep the bugs out, but loose enough that it can vent). Set in a sunny place outside for three days.
  4. After three days, strain the berries through a jelly bag or flour sack towel, squeezing out as much of the liquid as possible. Pour juice back into the glass jar or one gallon crock. Stir in the sugar, making sure it is all dissolved. Add chopped raisins. Cover loosely and keep in a warm place indoors to continue fermentation for three more weeks.
  5. At the end of this time period, strain through several layers of cheesecloth (a flour sack towel or old cotton t-shirt will also work). Siphon into clean, sterilized bottles. (See How to Clean and Sterilize Bottles and How to Siphon Wine.) Cork lightly at first (or put a balloon over the top). When your balloon doesn’t inflate or you see no bubbles on the bottle walls, cork tightly and store on their sides. Seal with wax for longer storage. Keep for at least one year before drinking.


  • I set my elderberry sun wine in a sunny window, then out on the deck in various spots, and then brought it inside at night. We have a groundhog that’s been visiting the deck at night, at I didn’t want it getting in the hooch. The liquid should be bright red in color after three days in the sun.
  • You’ll note that this recipe has no added yeast. This made me a little nervous, since wild yeast can be less reliable. Mine didn’t start bubbling right away, but I cheated a bit and used the same spoon to stir both batches of wine. (The other recipe has commercial wine yeast.) Spoon sharing got the fermentation going. If you don’t see bubbles within a couple of days, it’s probably safer to add commercial yeast so your wine doesn’t spoil or turn into vinegar.