October 2, 2009

Elderberries, Cornelian cherries, and more...

The other day I had a wonderful gathering experience. It began with walking past a tree that I had walked past many times before, but this time I noticed some red fruit hanging off the branches. "Could it be?!" I thought. I had recently read about Cornelian cherries, but had never actually known to see one growing. Cornelian cherries (Cornus mas, unless the name has changed) are in the Dogwood (Cornaceae) family. They produce large, red, cherry-like fruit that each contain a large olive-like pit. Indeed I was right. I found two Cornelian cherry trees right in the middle of COA's campus. I collected at least a pound of these fruit and will post later about how I process them.

This led into collecting a few pounds of rose hips from Rosa rugosa, and Rosa canina, but will have to wait until a frost comes through in order to collect more. More on this later, but just know that rose hip jam is the BEST jam I have ever had, and not many people even know about it.

After that I thought I'd check on the Elderberries (Sambucus nigra, but will have to confirm) on campus. The ripe berries were weighing the branches down! I quickly got a pair of pruning shears, and fixed them to a long stick. Then I tied a rope to the handle, so that I could pull the rope, and thus use the shears from a distance. This was very helpful because most of the berries were very high up. Soon I had what must have been more than six pounds of berries.

At home, I froze the Cornelian cherries and Rose hips, but boiled the Elderberries with a bit of honey and water, until it reduced to about half of the full pot. Then I strained them by squeezing the berry paste in a cloth. The left over mush I spread in a pan, and dried to a sort of fruit leather consistency. I had never tried that before, but both the syrup and leather turned out amazing!!!

Have to go now, but more on this later.


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  2. LUKA!
    Firstly, this blog rocks, thanks for sharing your wisdom with the world.
    Secondly, I can't believe you still have Elderberries up there! Mine have been gone for weeks. The rest of the berries had a poor season, which bummed me out. What about your nut trees? I have a few good hazelnut shrubs but I missed them too. I think they had a good year but a mystery forager near me always gets there before me. Keep posting friend!