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Sunday, October 3, 2010

If You Can't Beat It, Eat It!

autumn olive

You might remember that back in May I talked about this invasive shrub, Autumn Olive, that grows all over, and is a really bad plant. I happened to read this week that the fruits are edible. Not just survival mode edible, but one of the real unknown treats of the world of wild foods.

I was pretty surprised, because I've tried the fruits any number of times, and wasn't impressed at all. They were just dry and sour. Well, it seems that I had never tried them at the correct time of year. And right now is the correct time. Just before the first frost, the sugar develops and they become sweet. Actually when you bite one they are tart for just a second and then you taste the sweetness.

Not only do they taste good, they have 18 times the amount of lycopene as tomatoes do.

berries in canning jarI've found a few suggestions for things to do with the berries, other than just eating them. Everyone says that they make delicious juice. But I'm not too interested in putting them through a strainer and getting juice the hard way. I do have a recipe that I use for grapes, that's super easy. I've used it successfully for wild grapes and elderberries, so I'm trying it with the autumn olives.

juice canning jarYou put 1 cup of fruit in a sterile quart jar, add sugar (I used 1/8 c sugar and 1/4 c Splenda), cover with boiling water, leaving 1/2 inch headspace, and process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath.

Then you wait. Actually you wait for about 6 months. As you can see, it doesn't look like anything happened. However over time, the juice comes out of the fruit and the color will develop. So I'm trying it with the Autumn Olive. I just made one jar. If I like it, next year, I'll do more.

See Autumn Olive, Beautiful and Terrible


Duxbury Ramblers said...

Is this what we call Spreading Oleaster - Elaeagnus umbellata? If it is we have not got a problem as yet, it grows in our southern counties - you would enjoy the variety of wild food that grows here especially the fruits, we seem to be having bumper crops of blackberries, everyone we meet seems to have a bagfull :)

kwattro said...

interesting find there shark. i wonder how it taste as juice.

lots of health benefits?

rainfield61 said...

I can feel and cannot resist the taste.

jeanlivingsimple said...

I have read these were invasive. I wish I could do something like this with the invasive Privet that grows here. Best of luck with the juice!

betchai said...

thanks for the info, i think i see a lot of them here in the wild too, but was not sure the fruits can be eaten.

Ann said...

Very interesting, can't wait to hear how it turns out

spinninglovelydays said...

What a thrilling discovery! How nice that they didn't only turn out to be sweet (and in such an interesting way too!), they're healthy too. Hope to encounter one someday. :)

Lin said...


This reminds me of my neighbor's cherry tree. She had it for years when it started to split and had to have it removed. When the guys showed up to take it down, they asked if they could keep the cherries. Sure, she said, not thinking anything of it because they were white cherries and none of us dared to eat the things....EVER.

When we saw the Hispanic guys fighting over bags to collect them, we reached down and nearly died for how good they were! What fools we were all those years!!

Lin said...

WOW! Look at Chuck's GIANT photo over there!!!

Ferd said...

I hope we get to hear about the final result 6 months from now!
How fun!

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

Carol- yes, that's the plant. It may not be invasive where you are. It's native to Europe.

kwattro- vitamins similar to most fruits, the outstanding thing is the high lycopene.

rainfield- I'm sure you would enjoy it

Jean- yes, I've heard that privet escapes and gets really bad too

betchai- I think there is more Russian Olive Elaeagnus angustifolia in the west, but you probably have both. The RO is also edible, but not as sweet (so I read)

Ann- I'll report... but it will be quite a while.

Ivy- You may have it... it was brought here from China, so it might have spread to you... or been there all along. It's probably not invasive where you live.

Lin- Very few plants except mushrooms will kill you with a taste. You can get away with touching it to your tongue to see if it causes stinging or burning, or any other unpleasant sensation... then you can eat one and see if you get a stomach ache, etc.

Ferd- I will tell all!

The Oceanside Animals said...

Interesting! I hope it comes out good! Reminds me of when we were back in New York and had a mysterious plant that sprouted hundreds of what turned out to be elderberries. We made jam out of them. Mmmmmm.

RNSANE said...

Do they become fermented? It sounds like they would become almost like a kind of wine or potent liquor.

Julia said...

I know of nothing like that out here. I like your spirit of adventure on those berries. I'm not so sure I'd be so enterprising.

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