Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Sunday we picked elderberries. The bushes here are in varying stages of ripeness from very ripe to not ripe at all. Sometimes this seems to depend on how much sun they are getting, but other times two bushes growing next to each other have fruits on either end of the gathering season.

Before this summer, I only knew of two elderberry bushes in our area. Now I see them everywhere; it is amazing what this project has done for our ability to identify plants from a distance. You get the knack for seeing the shape of a plant. What before was just a horizon of green leaves is now a canvas of rose bushes with elderberry peaking out from behind and grape vines hanging above.

Yesterday, as Thag ran, he noticed a whole hedge of ripe elderberries. So this afternoon, with Baby Yub Yub sleeping in the car, I drove slowly along the road as he scouted them out. They are easy to collect; usually the whole head is ripe at once, so we just clipped them with garden shears into our grocery bags.

Back home, we froze the clusters, then, later, pulled the frozen berries off their stems. Apparently raw elderberries make some people feel nauseated and don’t taste terribly good. We didn’t mind the few we tried. But tonight I made the elderberry and peach cake from Ronna Mogelon’s Wild in the Kitchen, and it is fantastic.

Later this week, I plan to make elderberry jam or jelly. Some people say they are too seedy for jam. Anyone out there tried it? Is it similar in seediness to raspberry jam (I love that texture.)?

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