Welcome to week 18!
We have some fun things for you this week:
- elderberries **NEW
- staghorn sumac
- spice bush twigs and leaves **NEW
- chicken mushroom
- wood sorrel
I tried to make an elderberry jelly yesterday, but having never made jelly before I was not so lucky and it didn’t gel. However I got a delicious syrup which I mixed with seltzer and enjoyed over ice which made me thing of….SHRUBS! This is what I wish I had made with the elderberries! Shrubs are vinegar/fruit/sugar decoctions which were used in the “olden” days, sometimes medicinally. They are usually mixed with carbonated water (or even alcohol) and served over ice. Here is a simple recipe for a elderberry shrub.
You will need to strip the elderberries off the clusters before using them. Try to avoid any stems and ripe berries, as these are somewhat toxic (can make you sick to your stomach.) I didn’t do it for you because I didn’t want to mush the berries and I think they will last longer for you like this, letting you strip them as you are ready to use them. They don’t have the best flavor raw/on their own, but apparently they are better dried so I left a tray in the sun to dry today (now it is in the dehydrator, finishing the drying process.) Euell Gibbons has a great chapter about elderberries in Stalking the Wild Asparagus.
When I was making my jelly, I used 3/4 quart elderberries, and 1/2 quart underripe grapes (you can use under-ripe wild grapes.) The grapes were supposed to have given it pectin. I only added 1/2 cup sugar though…it was SO delicious like this I couldn’t bring myself to add more. I wish I had just had it as a juice! Elderberries lack tartness so recipes recommend adding lemon, but I added sumac-ade instead of water (recommended by Gibbons) and it was very good. I boiled the elderberries and grapes with a couple cups sumac ade for 10 mins, mashed the fruit and simmered 10 minutes more, strained through jelly bags and added the 1/2 cup sugar (heat til sugar was dissolved.) This made an amazing juice! Unfortunately I didn’t stop there…I boiled down to 1 cup of syrup. I’m sure you’ll all do better!
Remember to cook your mushroom! Lots of chicken mushroom this week! Ways to store the chicken mushroom: They freeze well after cooking, so you can saute and freeze. You can also freeze before cooking…just cut it into pieces first and freeze, but then don’t thaw before using, just throw it right into the pot (or pan) of whatever you decide to cook it into. You can make soups or other dishes with it and freeze those, too. You can also dry this mushroom for later use.
The spice bush twigs (and leaves) can be boiled into tea (similar to the sassafras.) Who knows, maybe you can add sugar and pectin to this and turn that into jelly! I saw online (Raccoon Creek facebook page) a sassafras jelly made by a wild edibles workshop at Raccoon Creek state park recently (which I wish I had known about!) Try making the tea with and without the leaves (just twigs) to see if one tastes better to you. You can also dry the leaves and twigs for later use.
Enjoy your share this week!
Remember, we are away next week so there is no share on Thursday, August 16. We’ll return for the final two weeks of the csf on August 23 and August 30.
See you in a couple weeks!