Monday, September 3, 2012

Elderberries! (I think...)

We just got back from our annual camping trip.  In opting for Labor Day weekend, we ended up camping much later than usual (but got a bonus day out of it!) and, with the weather being what it's been, the foraging was all wonky.

Gone were the blackberries which would have likely been abundant 3-4 weeks ago.  Long gone were the blueberries.  However, there was apple picking and a surprise find of elderberries.

I think they are elderberries.  I looked it up on my phone, confirmed from several different sources that I had elderberries and not water hemlock berries or devil's walking stick berries.  Neither of which is good to eat, but my husband felt that "Devil's Walking Stick Jam" was a great name for a jam.  Sigh.  I even crushed a berry to determine how many seeds were in it.  Everything checked out, so I picked every ripe elderberry I could find.  Don't worry, I left many unripe ones for the animals to eat or for the seeds to propagate or whatever normally happens to elderberries.

Even with all that, I came home with exactly one cup of berries.  The recipes all call for 8 cups, or 3 pounds, or some other crazy amount which was simply unattainable given the shrubs I found.  I pared down the old fashioned (pectin-free) recipe for 1 cup and made exactly one 8-ounce jar of jam.  Which I tasted, being the official taste tester of all things foraged.  It's a complex flavor, and I'm bound to like it because I'm just plain excited that I found something I wasn't expecting simply because I was open to the experience.

I've also made 2 batches of applesauce, which made 5 quarts, and I still have a lot of apples to work through.  I used entirely macintoshes for these batches but the first batch was slightly *ahem* caramelized, which made it a nice color.  The second batch got some cinnamon because it was a really strange green color.

While I have the canner out I'll can the rest of the sauerkraut that finished fermenting last week.  It's been in the fridge; we took some with us on the trip and it went so amazingly well with the Bauernwurst and the Nuremburgwurst we brought.

On the agenda this week:  dilled carrots from all the farm share carrots, an apple pie, maybe more applesauce, and to figure out something to do with all the tomatillos in the farm share.


  1. I like how on here it's "I _think_ they are elderberries" but in my home it's "Of course they're elderberries! I checked the veins and the fuzz and the leaves and the color and the..."

  2. How can you have a whole post about elderberries and not one Monty Python reference? ;)

    1. Sorry. The berries don't smell like the flowers do, apparently.

  3. I ended up making a nice salsa with the tomatillos: without the jalapenos. It was tasty on burritos.


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