Thursday, September 28, 2006

Autumn Olive Jam ~ the Saga

Before I retired in June of 2004, I would bid farewell to this summer home and head back to work each fall. I would return in October to feverishly plant my garlic in a few days, and so I missed one of the great bounties of September … the autumn olive berries.

I spied them first in the fall of 2004 with their deep red color enriching the fall landscape. And then last fall my friends from Walatoola found a jar of autumn olive jelly which I devoured this spring. So I thought perhaps I should try my hand at making some myself.

I have never canned anything in my life. I don’t own any canning equipment. But I decided there’s a first time for everything.

THE HARVEST

I walked out on a sunny morning last week. The air was still and the berries glistened in the morning sun. As I made my way into the high grass, wet with the morning dew, the smells of wild mint wafted up as I crushed the grasses. I carried a paper bag and would take berry laden branches and lean them into the bag and strip the berries. Soon I had eight cups.

THE FIRST ATTEMPT

Now this part was interesting. First I had to separate the berry from its seed. So I added 2 cups of water to my berries and cooked them for about 20 minutes. I then put the mash through a sieve and had a little more than 5 cups of pulp. It looked like I would be making jam, not jelly. Just in time I received an email from my friend Jim (canner extraordinaire) and he provided two links that helped me decide on how to craft my own recipe. (see below)

Well I will spare you the details, but my jam did not set. So I was left with 7 jars of what I call “Autumn Olive Coulis.” It is actually pretty good … How does this sound for an over the top menu description? “Fresh local lamb chops rubbed with garden mint and fresh rocambole garlic, grilled over mesquite and served on an autumn olive coulis.”

IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED

So on Sunday I went out again to gather berries. This time the wind was howling and the branches flailed as I tried to tame them into my bag. BUT the 5 extra days of ripening made a significant difference in the size and sweetness of the berry.

This time I read the directions on the Sure-Jell BEFORE I started and I believe I have five nice jars of Autumn Olive Jam to show for it.


Recipe for Autumn Olive Jam

Gather 8 cups of ripe autumn olive berries. (For me in coastal Massachusetts, the pick date is September 25)

Add 1 cup of water to the 8 cups of berries and bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Run the mash through a sieve and you will have about 5 cups of pressed fruit.

Measure out 3 ½ cups of sugar. Take ¼ cup of the measured sugar and mix it with the contents of a package of no-sugar-needed Sure Jell. Mix it in with the pressed fruit and bring to a rolling boil. Add the remainder of the sugar to the boiling liquid and return to a rolling boil and let it boil for one minute.

Then can according to canning directions and cool.

I ended up with a little more than six 8 oz. jars of well set jam. Nice and tart.

http://tribes.tribe.net/floydcounty/thread/d4bb9ed5-9618-45cb-b043-a5fdbb7e837f

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/edible/msg0711083011420.html

23 comments:

Laurie said...

I've wondered about autumn olives since I saw them in a fruit tree catalog. Thank you for providing the photos and the recipe!

El said...

Yes, thank you, Leslie! Frost got our grapes this spring, but it sure didn't hit the autumn olives. They are delicious. Now I will get picking!

Anonymous said...

I just made a batch of jam (my first time as well). I don't know what a coulis is but I discovered that the sweetened pulp makes an incredible margarita!

subsistencefarmer said...

Thank you so much for the recipe and for the time invested in developing and distributing it. I looked far and wide and came up with very little. This did the trick. I now have two dozen jars of beautiful, well set autumn olive jam.

Leslie said...

Subsistence Farmer, thanks for the encouragement. I sure hope it tastes as good as it sets. Let me know. In fact all of you who tried this recipe, let me know what you think of the flavor once you crack open a jar. I intend to put some out in a jelly dish for T-giving.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why some trees have large red sweet berries in large abundant clumps and a few feet away on another tree--lousy?

Beth Heaney said...

Does anyone know where you can buy some of this jam? It's past the time when the fruit are available in my region, but I'd love to try it now! I live in Exeter, Rhode Island.

Beth Heaney said...

Oops. I'm resending that comment with the correct link on my name! I started a new blog and I forgot the exact url.

Also, does anyone know what the exact health benefits are of eating autumn olive berries? I've read that they have been shown to fight cancer, inflammation and other maladies. I also wonder if they lose any of their potency in cooking...

There are so many of them in Rhode Island! If they were not so invasive, I'd plant them near my home to make harvesting easy, but I do know of some places that are safe for picking and loaded with plants! Next year, I am ON it!

Sheila Allison said...

Today we found out what the bush was that I have kept my husband from cutting down. Now he wants to make jam from it and I can't believe how many Autumn Olive bushes we have. Some day you will have to hire a guide to find us. The coal mines in West Virginia planted them in the area for us.

Nikki said...

Mmmm I am going to try this tomorrow! I picked about 3 cups only so I might have to go get some more. Im in southern Maine and I think they are almost ready now but another week might help. So maybe the picking time that is optimal for s. maine is oct 5 or so? Hope everyone is enjoying fall!

Annette

Anonymous said...

I've read you can use any berry recipe(blueberry, rasberry etc.)with autumn olive and it will work. Going to try it!

Anonymous said...

Autumn olive makes a terrific jam. I cleaned, boiled, strained and mashed enough berries to make 7 cups of mash. I added about 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice, one packet of powdered pectic, and 8 cups of sugar. It made about 10 cups of wonderful jam! It made a very firm jam--in fact, it might not even need the commercial pectin. It's got a beautiful color and pleasant, distinct flavor.

Kelly said...

A friend and I have been eating Autumn Olives for over 20 years. We harvest them by placing a tarp or plastic sheet under the tree and whacking the limbs with a large stick. The berries will fall onto the tarp by the buckets. We harvested 40 gallon from one large bush this year. There is also a difference in size of fruit and taste from tree to tree. The leaves also make a good tea. Berry juice and jams are delicious.

Anonymous said...

Just made my first batch of autmn olive jam. Mixed with some strawberries I froze from June. Seems to be setting. I used No Sugar/Low Sugar pectin, and used stevia to cut down on the sugar. Just as sweet, no added calories or insulin spike. Thanks for posting

Kaila said...

Great recipe! I hope you don't mind I linked to your blog... let me know if it's a problem :).

Anonymous said...

Autumn Olive is an invasive plant. The more berries we can harvest, the fewer seeds will remain to spread. So make as much jam as possible! and go ahead and strip all the berries from the plant - dump the ones you don't want in a trashbag and dispose of them. Unfortunately you can't really compost them - they will just germinate unless your compost pile is really cooking.
Knowing you're helping the environment adds a savor to already yummy jam!

Anonymous said...

I just harvested a bunch of "autumn" olives in Portland Oregon. It is only the end of june, and no seed from this bush has ever popped up in my garden. I don't think they are invasive here? Does anybody have any information on this?

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say a big thank you!! I used your recipe for the Autumn Olive jam and it was absolutely awesome! We made some just last night here in Ohio, and wow, have we been missing out! Thanks again for your wonderful website, our family really appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this wonderful recipe. We have made the jam and everyone loves it. It reminds us of cranberry. Thanks again!

christinemm said...

Hi, I wanted to discuss the harvest dates. 2009 was a record cold year as you know. This is my first year trying autumn olives.

Speaking for 2009 I harvested them on October 30th and made fruit leather with them. We did have our first snow in Connecticut on 10/15/09 and dipped to 32 degrees. But on November 4 we had our first hard frost, that stayed on the ground a few hours after sunrise. THat morning I found the autumn olives had shriveled and puckered a bit, but the flavor is still great. They are harder to harvest when softer like that.

I have noticed in the last week that the birds are going crazy over them. I saw about six birds frantically eating them from one bush.

I've noticed the bushes with sweeter fruit hardly have any left on them. A really tart bush in my woods about 15 feet away was loaded. I bet the birds are being selective and eating the sweeter ones first!! Crazy!!

Anyhow I wonder if the warmer summers mean the fruit ripens sooner. This might explain why this colder season has allowed me to harvest until today (end of first week of November).

I saw a site today selling wild autumn olive jelly for $8 a half pint. Wow.
THANK YOU for your posts on these berries.

christinemm said...

I made the jam today. Came out great. First time I made jam also. Thank you so much. I will be linking to your post when I blog my story.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for your posts on these berries.

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