Pressing Elderberries in a York-made 100-Year-Old “Keystone” Berry Press
Over-100-year-old Elderberry Jelly Recipe
Earlier this month, Richard Duffy submitted photos of a “Keystone” Berry Press. This photo shows the upper cross brace, containing the manufacturers stencil; Keystone Farm Machine Company, in business in York, PA, between 1890 and 1919. It is difficult to tie down an exact date of manufacture for this berry press, however it is probably safe to say that it is at least 100-years-old.
The collections of the York County Heritage Trust contain a file of Keystone Farm Machine Company information. A product catalog is in this file; unfortunately it is not dated. Page 21 of that catalog contains this illustration of the No. 2 “Keystone” Berry Press, along with a table listing specifications and prices of all the models. On the opposite side of the upper cross brace, Richard Duffy’s berry press is identified as No. 1.
Carl Fehrenbach was at the York County Heritage Trust when I was researching this product. He remembered his Dad having one of these presses; they used it to press elderberries and grapes. That comment triggered a memory about having something in my family history files related to making Elderberry Jelly using a berry press. Continue reading for additional photos submitted by Richard Duffy, a short history of the Keystone Farm Machine Company and an over-100-year-old Elderberry Jelly recipe.
This photo shows the decorations on the sides of the berry press. Correspondence in the York County Heritage Trust file of Keystone Farm Machine Company information ask about lettering and decorations used on their products. My experience is that catalogs containing photos are the best guide. In catalogs with only sketched illustrations, such as the Keystone Farm Machine Company catalog, artists tend to make the lettering and decorations fancier, as compared to what actually occurs on the products produced. Thus these photos provide a nice authentic lettering and decoration guide for people restoring old “Keystone” presses.
In the early 1870s business was booming for the Empire Car Works, one of two major railcar manufacturing firms within the City of York. Empire had outgrown their cramped factory on the east side of North Beaver Street. The proprietor of the Empire Car Works, Michael Schall, expanded by building a large new factory on the west side of North Beaver Street. This new factory was completed in 1873.
After the Empire Car Works went out of business, the Keystone Farm Machine Company moved from their York Street 1890 start-up location to the empty Car Works about 1894 and when they went out of business in 1919, a large building in the complex became the start-up location of the former Keystone Color Works. In the 140 years of existence for this historic industrial structure, the three principal businesses that have occupied this structure have been:
- Empire Car Works (from its construction in 1873)
- Keystone Farm Machine Company (beginning about 1894)
- Keystone Color Works (beginning about 1919)
The following posts delve into the history of various occupants of the buildings:
- #29 Keystone Farm Machine Company in York; in the Factory Buildings that formerly housed the Empire Car Works
- Two Railcar Manufacturers were in the City of York during the Civil War; plus Origins of the Empire Car Works
- Michael Schall’s Empire Car Works; plus his Family
- Keystone Color Works, a Historic Structure that goes back to 1873 and the Empire Car Works
The following posts contain Keystone Farm Machine Company product photos:
- 100-Year-Old Cider Press; Made In York and still used in New Hampshire
- The Magic Corn Sheller; it was Invincible
- Photos of Corn Sheller; Made In York by Keystone Farm Machine Company
The following Elderberry Jelly recipe and directions are believed to be attributed to Mary Ann Smith; my Great-Grandmother. It was found tucked between pages of the Family Bible belonging to my Great-Grandparents; Jacob H. Smith and Mary A. (Ferree) Smith. They lived their entire married lives in East Prospect, York County, PA., where Jacob was a carpenter and building contractor.
My Dad, Harold Smith, had memories of his Mother, Iva Smith, making Elderberry Jelly; this memory came to light after he bought some Elderberry Jelly at Market; the result was a comment concerning the jelly his Mother made tasted so much better. Several years after Dad died, the “Elderberry Jelly” recipe was found in his grandparents Bible; it is not known if his Mom was using this recipe attributed to her mother-in-law Mary Ann (Ferree) Smith.
Quoting the directions and recipe for “Elderberry Jelly”; with spelling corrections:
- Cut-off & gather whole berry clusters
- Wash berry clusters in water
- De-stem & only use ripe berries
- Press berries & cook down the juice
- Immediately clean berry press
- Skim impurities off cooked juice
- Pour juice in jelly bag & let drip over night
- Make in very small batches
- Add 3-tbsp. apple juice to 1-pint berry juice
- Let juice mixture boil for 5-minutes
- Slowly add 1-pound sugar while stir briskly
- Jar after all sugar dissolved