Friday, August 2, 2013

Now I See Them Everywhere

Last year, I finally discovered what elderberries look like.  It took a while to be sure I had correctly identified them.  I had just a few and made a single jar of jam.

This year, everywhere I look I find elderberry bushes.  I'd found some at the stables, but surrounded by thorny rosebushes.  There's one at the park down the road.  None of those berries were ripe yet, so I decided to stop by a few other parks with streams I knew of.  I found some in a nearby town today along with a bunch of blackberries.  I picked a few, as there weren't a lot of ripe panicles, and thought I'd come back in a few days or so to check again.  I left the park.  I walked across the street, to where the stream came back out and alongside an access road to yet another park.  It was there I found the motherlode of elderberries!  These ones were huge (in comparison, let's face it, they're still only about a quarter of an inch across), and the panicles were laden with berries.  Much more than any I'd ever seen. I picked a whole lot, and got them home to discover I had about 6.5 cups (some weren't too ripe, I saved those for the photo).  I wanted 8 cups to make a batch of jam, so I went back out to yet another conservation land and, sure enough, found some more.  Enough to make 8 cups.

To make the jam, I boiled the berries with 3/4 cup water for a few minutes then crushed them with a masher.  I should have taken the seeds out at this point, but didn't.  Now I know.  Next year, no seeds!  Anyhow, to this I added a package of powdered pectin and 7 cups of sugar and now have 10 jars of elderberry jam, plus more in the fridge.  I've had a few spoonfuls, just to make sure I was correct in my identification, before I feed it to anyone else.

If I feel inspired to pick any more berries, I might make elderberry syrup.

5 comments:

  1. Actually, the jam is a little runny so it's more like a syrup anyway. That makes it more useful, as I can mix it with yogurt, or with some kind of liqueur, or put it on pancakes. Yum!

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  2. Looks great. I wish we had elderberries here! My father could tell you what any tree, berry or animal was. Sometimes it amazes me how ignorant our generation is when compared to his.

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    1. Yeah, a lot of this knowledge skipped a generation it seems. My grandmother knew the name of every plant as well. I'm so glad to see how this lore has come full circle and people are interested in it again.

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  3. My dad's favorite kind of pie was elderberry. We picked them in the park next to our house. The bushes used to surround the tennis courts. If you make a pie, save a piece for Chris's Papa!

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  4. I really can see them everywhere. I can even spot them driving along major highways. It's almost distracting!

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