It’s been almost two years since I combined some Onoway honey with crushed, frozen u-pick raspberries and added a bit of yeast to the mix. (The photo at left shows a label reading “Rasp. Melomel 2009”. That’s a mistake in my cellar bookkeeping: it’s definitely from 2010.) This raspberry mead was one of the first fermented drinks I made that wasn’t based on a kit of grape must or malt wort.
I had no idea what I was doing.
I was using a recipe from The Winemaker’s Recipe Handbook by Raymond Massaccesi, a book that I have not used since. Most of the recipes in the book are a syrup of water and refined sugar, flavoured with fresh fruit, pH-adjusted … Continue reading.
Most of the highbush cranberries in the nearby park have lengthened into a distinct oval shape, which means they’re ready for picking.
Often when harvesting or foraging in balmy summer, I find myself looking forward to the colder months ahead.
Much of the past year has been devoted to exploring seasonality beyond ingredients: looking at traditional dishes and meals that mark the season. I pick highbush cranberries mostly for use in two meals: Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. (If there’s a little extra that can be enjoyed in November with some game meats, all the better.) So as I romp through the bush in late summer, I’m actually thinking about fall and winter.
Similarly, when candying cherries in August, I might … Continue reading.
There are chokecherries hanging in big bunches over almost every trail in the river valley right now. They are sweet, juicy, and extremely astringent. Pick ’em while you can.
There is the pit to contend with. If you plan on picking more than a handful, the best way to process them is using a food mill. If the plate perforation size is correct, the mill will rub the flesh from the berries and leave the pits behind.
From the juice you can make a jelly or sauce to accompany game and other lean red meat (think: tannic red wine).
Or the juice can be strained and enjoyed on its own as chokecherry cordial.
Earlier in the month we pressed our apples into cider. The juice that ran from the press was sweet and tart, with a full, milky mouthfeel, and a subtle siltiness that I think was from the skins and seeds of the fruit. It had a cloudy, oxidated colour and was a pleasing drink in all of its many facets.
As with grapes, there is an abundance of natural yeast living on the skins of apples, and when you crush the fruit and mix the skins with the juices, the yeast has easy access to sugar. I’m always surprised by the efficacy and consistency of this natural fermentation. Basically the cider can sit in your basement for a week, … Continue reading.
“Glacé” is a confusing term because it can refer to ice cream, cake frosting, fruit candied in “hard crack” syrup, or simply fruit preserved in syrup. It’s that last definition that applies here. Most sources I consulted had a similar procedure for making glacé cherries:
Make a simple syrup of one part water and one part sugar. Bring to a simmer, add pitted cherries, remove pot from heat, cover and let stand over night. This is simply to infuse the syrup with cherry, and the cherries with syrup. The next day, remove the cherries and reduce the syrup until a candy thermometer reads 230°F. This gives a good thick-but-runny consistency. Reintroduce the cherries, simmer briefly, then store in a sanitized … Continue reading.
Most sour cherry varieties, like Evans, do dry okay, but it takes forever. With my dehydrator running on the “Fruit/Vegetable” setting (135°F), it took 30 hours to reach raisin consistency.
The dried cherries are extremely sour, even more so than when fresh (which I should have anticipated…)
I had originally planned to eat these dried sour cherries in yogurt and granola, but they are way too tart to be consumed with tangy yogurt. Suggested alternative uses: game terrines, “Raincoast Crisp” style cracker, and other applications where there is meat or starch to temper their acidity. I also love tossing them into puddings, like wild rice and barley.
This is what God intended us to do with sour cherries like Evans and Carmine Jewel: bake them in pastry.
While I have put a full recipe below, I need to stress that I don’t use a recipe for sour cherry pie. Different cherries have different levels of moisture, sugar, and acidity, and additions of cornstarch and sugar should be varied accordingly.
Put the cherries in a pot and bring to a simmer. They will release quite a lot of liquid, especially if they had been frozen. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Taste and adjust sweetness as necessary.
Prepare a cornstarch slurry of one part starch and one part water by volume. Stir the slurry into the cherries. … Continue reading.
Yet ev’n this Season Pleasance blithe affords,
Now the squeez’d Press foams with our Apple Hoards.
To most contemporary city-folk the word “cider” implies fermented apple juice. My grandparents made the distinction between “cider” (juice pressed from apples) and “hard cider” (fermented apple juice). For now I have simply made cider, and will leave the discussion of hard cider and its variants for another post.
This week we picked about 150 lbs of apples from three different trees:
- one beautiful, well-trained tree yielding large, blushing apples, which I will be referring to as “Ron’s apples”;
- one crabapple tree with bright red, tart fruit;
- one hideous, unkempt tree in our backyard that grows small green apples. The tree
… Continue reading.
When rose flowers wither and fall from the plant, they leave behind a little green ball called a rose hip. In late summer those hips swell and turn red, and start to look like berries.
They are not berries, as you will discover if you open one up. Rosehips are full of seeds and what looks like white hair. If eaten raw those hairs will irritate your mouth and throat. Don’t eat those hairs raw. The fleshy part around the seeds and hair can be eaten raw. It has an interesting flavour; depending on the plant and the time of year it can taste like fresh cut grass, or a tomato, or possibly a plum.
Though rose hips can be … Continue reading.
In January, Lisa and I bought a house in McKernan. The backyard was a gift that spring has recently unwrapped for us. Over the last couple weeks we’ve discovered that the previous owners of this house were active gardeners who established a mass of edible perennials.
Following are the edible plants that are appearing in our yard. If you think we’ve misidentified anything, please let me know. (We’re new at this…)
Juniper (with mature berries)
Raspberries (lots of raspberries…)