Friday, October 10, 2008

Fall Treats

Rhus glabra

Smooth sumac here nestled amongst the pine. These berries can be collected now to make a drink known as "indian lemonade" which is a bit sour and must be sweetened. I have found it best to wash the berry clusters then soak them in a bowl of water, mashing on occasion. This will create a pink liquid which can then be strained through cheesecloth, or a cotton dish towel.
Add sugar to taste and refrigerate. We use it in small quantities to give iced tea an added tang.

This plant is widespread from Florida to British Columbia. My reference claims that some in Appalachia rolled and smoked the leaves as a treatment for asthma; this seems odd. It has been in cultivation since 1620 and the leaves and roots contain tannin used for staining and dyeing.
And it tastes good; whats better than that?

Elaeagnus umbellata

(Greek elaia for "olive", agnus for sacred ; umbellatus refers to the flowers)

These berries on the Autumn olive bush are a bit tangy depending on time of season and where the bush occurs in the landscape. They get sweeter as time nears first frost and it is best to keep testing before picking, for maximum sweetness. They make a wonderful jelly and can be processed as you would grapes--to make jelly of them. They have a subtle flavor so if you are used to mouth explosions in your jelly, forget it!

The bush has been in cultivation since 1830 according to my reference and originally comes from areas below 9000 ft from Afghanistan to China, Korea and Japan. It was introduced to US in 1917 and (of course) quickly spread to invade the indigenous ecosystems and establish itself amongst the plants.
(a pet peeve of mine: introducing non-native plants and animals, for one reason or another, by alleged-intelligent people, into an established ecosystem with no regard for future developments and "escape from cultivation". In southern US, welcome kudzu and killer bees; I fight the multiflora rose introduced by University Extension braniacs as a hedge bush around pastures and fields. (and yes, it has thorns))
But I guess that some escapees are welcome if they can provide a tasty drink or jelly.

What is in your area to eat or drink?

Ref:Shrubs and Woody Vines of Missouri by Kurz, 1997


tarek alghnam said...

Asentat information here
Berries and olives
I remembered my memories with trees
Greetings to you
And I hope to be friends

ANNA-LYS said...

Nothing is so colourful
and have so much energy
as fall and its fruits and berries

Middle Ditch said...

We have loads to drink, eat and make jelly from. I pick sloes and black berries in the autumn to make wine from, dandelions in spring to do the same and in the summer I make carrot, beetroot and rhubarb wine.

Just lovely and cheap too.

iamnasra said...

Great info ...will wait to taste it

Azer Mantessa said...

this is a very comprehensive description.


Zee said...

Thank you for sharing! I never tried the sumac berries, will do so now.
I still have apples on a tree outside, some kind of golden-delicious type. Need to harvest them before the frost (live a mile from New England on the edge of the Hudson valley).
There is still kale in the garden, but I am somewhat sick of it. Lemonbalm an Peppermint are still abundant.
By the way, I enjoyed poking around your site.

Reya Mellicker said...

I have a fig tree in my front yard that pelts us with deliciousness when in season. There's a peach tree down the block, but the fruit on that tree at least is not edible. There are lots of huckleberry trees in the 'hood, too. The fruit is very sweet and sticky. The mosquitoes love it.

In springtime I always eat some of the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin. They're sour but definitely have a cherry flavor, like cough medicine, kind of.

There are so many herbs growing on Capitol Hill, that there's never any need to go buy them at the supermarket. Rosemary, thyme, basil ... whatever you need for your spaghetti sauce can be found growing in gardens everywhere.

I've noticed lots of pumpkins in the last few weeks, too. I think it's a good year for pumpkins.

The earth is so fertile! Wow.

Mother of Invention said...

The olive bush berries are very beautiful. We have sumach here but not all the bushes have the cluster of fruit. Does that mean there are male plants/bushes and female? My guess is that these are female.

Sophia said...

I had to do a double take of that first picture. My, how the red leaves stand out amidst all the green of the pines!

I am always tempted to eat delicious-looking berries on bushes around trails I hike on, but since I know next to nothing about plants I don't dare pluck anything to eat.

The only thing I have confidence in are the honeysuckles; I really enjoy tasting them.

goatman said...

Gee, so many fall treats around, thanks all.

moi There are two other varieties of sumac: Fragrant sumac and Winged sumac but the winged has red-berry clusters and the fragrant is a low bush with small berries, and fragrant leaves looking somewhat like poison ivy but with notchy edges. Each variety is self-pollinating with male and female flowers.

reya We had a fig tree in lower Alabama. The birds got most of them!

zee Please, poke around ,just wipe off your feet! ha

sophia These berries are edible off of the bush but very bitter with tiny hairlike thingies, which is why the liquid is strained. They won't hurt you though.

Princess Haiku said...

I like your autumn post; it's like visiting a woods.

Your Eleanor quote about "talking" caught my eye too and it seems more pertinent than ever. I am dismayed by the lack of tolerance that appears to be sweeping across this country.

lettuce said...

i'd an idea the first one here was poisonous - clearly not! sounds delicious.

I normally make elderberry syrup, but my local supply has suffered from rather brutal woodland management, plus earlier-than-usual cropping... we have to eke out a couple of bottles left from last year through this coming winter...

Sophia said...

Also, a lot of times when I go hiking I see cool mushrooms and wonder to myself if they're edible. I know people go hunting for morels but I wouldn't know an edible mushroom from a poisonous one.

goatman said...

lettuce, I think we have elderberries around here: I must see.
Never thought of making syrup since everyone seems to make wine of these.

sophia, stay clear of mushrooms unless you are with an experienced person. Morels are easy to spot but only after you have once had them pointed out to you. My dad once fried up and ate some from the front yard and was in ER within a few hours. OK now though.

lettuce said...

goatman, if you find any I'd be glad to let you have the recipe. Its delicious hot or cold (easy to make) v. good for snuffles and sneezes - delicious and nutricious in every way!

Anonymous said...

waiting for your news


lettuce said...

i was sure i'd blogged about elderberry syrup - and after a search managed to find it. So, here is the recipe


krystyna said...

In my native country Poland there are many kind of berries.
Thank you for sharing this perfect information and fantastic pics.
Btw, I love all kind of fruits,
so this post is very yummy to me.

Mother of Invention said...

Thanks. I love the Burning Bush too which is bright right now here and much like sumach.

The Social Reformer said...


Middle Ditch said...

Lettuce is not the only one with little supply of elderberry. On our last walk, to our horror, we saw that our trees were cut down too! What's going on?

MarmiteToasty said...

Now middle ditch has made me want to start on my wine making again, its been a few years, but I use to make wicked wines from things I pick from the hedgerows....

Your photos are just gorgeous...


Sophia said...

I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date!

Happy (belated) birthday, Goatman!!

P.S. I sent you an email the other day.

Marion said...

All the colourful leaves here were blown off, about a month ago. So I appreciate your lovely photos.

There are saskatoon berries, blueberries, salal berries, strawberries and raspberries, blackberries, rose hips...I could go on! This is a very prolific place!

Our resident Bear gets most of them. He shares with Mule Deer and Moose and a gazillion birds.

Happy Belated Birthday, from me, as well!

ANNA-LYS said...


Congratulations USA!


Pecos Blue said...

Looks lovely and very good for you.

Pauline said...

Great post I would enjoy learning how to use the leaves or roots from native plants for herbal teas as so many are planted as ornamental without our knowledge of historical values.


To Mr. Goatman

You have done a research like efforts to know about the 'the particular blue colour used by the ancient painters. Yes, most of the colours used before the invention of pure chemicals came from the natural stuffs only. We may find a particular stuff a novelty, but it might have been imported from far corner of the earth.

While seeing at Taj Maha, in Agra, India, I have seen many types of marble that are never seen in India. But at that time the pieces were imported.

Thanks for taking such a keen interest in paintings and the colours. I myself is fond of oil paints, but all the colours I use come in Tube ! No contents known.

Naval Langa

Squirrel said...

I make cough syprup out of marrubium (aka Horehound)

and tea from the peppermint, and a jam from rhubarb in the yard. I used to have a nice veg garden and strawberry patches--but too much wildlife passes through, it got crazy trying to put up better and better fencing.

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