Sunday, July 15, 2012

First Wild Berry Harvest of the Year

~ wild elderberries ~
I noticed this week that there were red berries smiling at me from the bushes, but it didn't register til almost the weekend that they were the wild red elderberries!

And the bushes are LOADED this year. Last year I didn't bother picking any (or much of any) because the pigeons ate all the berries before they were ripe. This year, there are either fewer pigeons, more cats or more food for the birds elsewhere...

I got out for a few hours on Saturday & went along the roadside - where elderberries tend to like to grow - moist areas with relatively little disturbance.

I got 4 grocery bags within less than 2 hours....

So, what I have to do with these elderberries is process them right away - I can't just toss the bags into the freezer like I do with most of my other berries.

The little stems need to be all removed - they can cause stomach cramps & possibly diarrhea if there are too many in whatever I make.

But 4 grocery bags full??? Last night it took me 3 hours to pick each of these little suckers off & I got through only 1 1/2 bags.... You learn quickly how to gently rip them off with minimal stems.
~ wild elderberries ~

As you can see, these are small suckers - but I tend to pick them just days before they are fully ripe (and that makes for easier removal & more pectin in the fruit - YES - TIP: picking fruit before it is 100% ripe means more pectin in the fruit, means a larger harvest (you get them before the birds) & a more successful set to jams or jellies!!)

I'm putting all the fruit into recycled salad clam shells & stacking them in the freezer for the next stage of processing that will happen hopefully sooner rather than later.

The first time I made anything with elderberries, it was a strawberry-rhubarb-elderberry jam that was divine! I want to make it again this year...

Well, back to the last half bag...

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