Monday, August 24, 2015

Adventures in Foraging: Elderberry Tincture

Beginning of summer   End of summer
At the beginning of the summer I posted pictures of the Elderflowers I collected and linked to a cordial recipe.  Elderberries are also edible and apparently have wonderful medicinal properties.  The bushes that I collected from are luckily large enough that I was able to leave many blossoms on the trees and even after harvesting some berries, you'd never know any were missing.  Happy Eating birds!  So I froze the berries as I had read that this made them easier to remove from the stems.  Perhaps, but there is still a lot of work to pick through them and I didn't help matters by freezing the bag full.  Next year I will freeze the clusters on a cookie sheet to make life easier! 

Frozen Elderberries

starting to thaw!
I debated making a syrup, but decided on a tincture instead as I feel like I have been making a lot of sweet things with the jams and jellies.  Various recipes abound.  They all seem to agree that you must use at least 80 proof alcohol to extract the goodness from the berries.  Most recipes use vodka as it is tasteless, but I went with Sailor Jerry's rum instead.  It is 92 proof and has sweet and spiced flavour that I thought would go nicely with the currantish flavour of the Elderberry.

Picked clean!

The berries were put into a large glass jar and covered with the rum with a cap of about an inch.  The mister will be glad that I didn't use all the Jerrys!  I did give them a bit of a mushing to release some of the juice.  Now to let them sit in a dark spot for 4-6 weeks.  After it is strained I can bottle it and it will keep on the shelf much longer than a syrup would keep in the fridge - another reason I chose the tincture over a syrup/cordial.

Elderberry flavoured Sailor Jerry's!
If you want to give the mixture to kids for cold prevention, add a 1/4tsp to a mug of boiling water and let cool before drinking.  The boiling water will burn off any alcohol. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Wild Plums - Adventures in Foraging

     I have been keeping my eye on a couple of wild plum trees we discovered on our cycling adventures this summer and with this incredible heat, they are ripe and ready to go!  At the beginning of August, they looked like this...

And now...ta da!  glorious wee plums!

wild plums in South Ottawa
     They are small, so I am thinking jelly might be the way to go as I won't have to remove the pits.  I have read that they will keep a couple of days refrigerated, which is fantastic news as apparently this heat wave isn't over yet!  I made peach jam a couple of days ago with peaches from the reduced rack at work and did it ever make the apartment hot!  Although - right now at 8:30 in the evening - it is lovely sitting on the deck.