On Tuesday, I took a day-long sabbatical from canning and drove to see my folks. I don't see them nearly often enough. They recently returned from a two-week-long vacation in the Adirondacks, and were replete with tales of their grand adventures. I couldn't sit still for stories for long, because soon my ulterior motive surfaced: I wanted to raid their wild apple tree. I also wanted to scoot over to the West Branch Preserve for wild grapes.
Wild apples and grapes to can.
Well, scoot we did.
Goldenrod, Joe Pye weed, white asters... a typical Delaware County panorama.Fabulous mushrooms on the roots of the (probably) bicentenarian white oak tree. They only show up every two years.
I found about seven wild grapes (boo), but I also found this elderberry bush:
It was so laden its branches brushed the ground. I'm no stranger to wild foods, so I made quick work of gathering the berries. When I was about eleven, my nature study rapidly expanded to include edible and medicinal plants. I read field guides voraciously, digested wild foods cookbooks and of course Stalking the Wild Asparagus. My parents were patiently indulgent, as all good parents are. In the course of my obsession, I learned a lot. And the beautiful thing about stuff you learn when you're a kid is, it sticks with you the rest of your life. I'd know an elderberry with my eyes closed. Thankfully, though, I was able to keep my eyes open to fill my bag with fruit.
Berries, sans stems. I ended up with a little over three pounds of fruit. That's a lot of berries. And now, on to jelly making...
Drain them overnight..
Enjoy them on your toast the next day.