To those of you who have been following my recent posts it will come as no surprise what the wild food of the month for November is going to be. NO! NOT the coypu, i still haven't managed to catch one, it's the autumn olive berry.
Further research revealed that the berry is not only edible and tasty, but extremely good for you with up to 16 times as much Lycopenes as raw tomatoes, making it a potentially powerful cancer preventative. The plant is regarded in many places as an invasive non-native species, which has been planted along river banks to prevent erosion, but because of its high germination success has been known to displace native flora in some places. The site where we found it there are only about half a dozen or so trees, absolutely laden with fruit.
Due to it's ability to absorb nitrogen from the atmosphere in can thrive on extremely poor soils and fix nitrogen in the soil and make it available for other plants. The wood makes good fire wood, carving wood or can be used to build solid wooden posts. The fruit, apart from simply enjoying it raw, can be juiced, made into jam, fruit leather, dried, added to cakes etc. etc. etc...
Now I want to save some seed to plant on my land. Non-native it maybe, but something that prevents erosion, a recent problem as you'll have noticed, and has so many other uses, sounds just like the thing I like to grow.
On a slightly different note, this week we are having a little helper staying with us, Cat from Oregon. We have recently signed up with a website called helpX, that brings together people who travel on a budget and would like to experience their destination more intimitely and are willing to work for a bed and meals, with people who can do with a hand with something. So Cat became the first in hopefully a long line of people who decide to share our lives with us. So today and yesterday we gave her an introduction into our lifestyle by taking her wild food foraging and then turning our spoils into lovely preserves.
of which I have spoken extensively last year in a post which is proving to be the most googled post on my blog. The recipe of a strawberry tree fruit jam I posted at the time was only a limited success. We ate it, but I wondered if it was worth our while again as it turned out to be a bit bland. So this year I decided to add some different ingredients to make a Christmas Jam.
This is what we did. We picked about 500g strawberry tree fruit. Then we added 500g of autumn olive berries.
Here's Susan in action picking some of them:
The other experiment with autumn olive berries was along the lines of my (in)famous "I can't believe it's not mango chutney" chutney, in the sense that we made a "I can't believe it's not cranberry chutney" chutney consisting of unweighed and unmeasured quantities of autumn olive berries, apples, onions, ginger orange zest and juice and white wine vinegar.