Foraging with a Four Year Old: Autmnn-Olive

Yesterday I took M to a woodsy area where I'd seen an autumn-olive heavy with ripe berries. Autumn-olives are an invasive species, each fruit contains a giant seed ready to become a new plant. Taking the berries out of the wild seemed like my environmental duty for the native(-ish) environment. Plus I had fantasies of us picking them by bagful for sweet tart concoctions, like adding them to fruit leather and simple syrup.

A few minutes into our harvest and we were both dripping with sweat. The prospect of free fruit was not entertaining enough for the 4 year old, even though curious song birds were perched overhead and within arms reach to see what we were doing. We picked for less than half an hour and got about 1 cup of berries. The autumn olive fruit is mostly seed, so 1 cup wasn't going to get very far with homemade fruit roll ups.

I went straight for the simple syrup as a way to familiarize our family to something new. The fruit has a straightforward berry flavor with a bit of tang and a dry finish. That may sound a little too fancy schmancy, but if you try one, you'll understand.

Here's what I did:
Boil berries in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes, bruising them/smooshing them with the back of a spoon as they boil. After 10 minutes, add 1/2 cup more water and 1 cup sugar (adjust sugar to your taste: use 3/4 cup sugar to make the end product more tart, less sweet).
Allow to cool.
After the syrup cooled it was time for a taste test. Since M helped me pick the berries, she enjoyed the first sample: 3 ounces syrup, 4 ounces seltzer water, over ice. Add a splash of lemon juice and you'll have something amazingly tasty and somewhat nutritious despite the sugar. The autumn-olive may have up to 17 times more lycopene than the average ripe tomato! According to the Ann Arbor News, they also contain high levels of vitamins A, C and E, flavonoids and essential fatty acids.

1 comment:

PenrynC said...

Sounds wonderful! By the way, I've always wondered? are you "wolfie" or are you the "sneak"????