Recipe: Sea buckthorn and apple jelly.

It’s time for my annual visitation of this old-but-relevant post from 2012…’tis the season for harvesting sea buckthorn berries in Alberta (and many other places worldwide)! Tasty AND beautiful!

 

(Photo credit:  R. Normandeau)

My hubby and I managed to get out this past Saturday morning and gather some sea buckthorn fruit so that I could try my hand at making jelly from it.  If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll recall that I made a sea buckthorn beverage last year – I just love the citrusy taste of the berries and their gorgeous sun-bright colour.

Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) is a fairly common roadside plant here in Calgary – the City planted many of them years ago, mostly for erosion control on slopes.  It’s one of those shrubs you’d be hard-pressed to kill:  it’s tough-as-nails, drought-tolerant, pollution and salt-tolerant (good for our winter roads and all that de-icing salt), and a fairly aggressive spreader.  You don’t find it employed as an ornamental landscape plant very often, but it’s really very pretty, with silvery-green leaf clusters and the brilliant autumn fruit.  (Both male and female plants are required for fruit production).  Sure, some people may be turned off by the thorns, but they contribute to the shrub’s rabbit and deer resistance, which can’t be a bad thing, right?!

The only thing that irks me to no end about gathering sea buckthorn berries is that it’s just such a difficult process – the fruit only comes off the stems under extreme duress.   The kind of duress that leaves you standing there with bright orange seabuckthorn juice all over your clothes and squirted in your eye.  I’ve read that commercial harvesters of the shrub just go along and prune off fruit-bearing branches, freeze them for awhile, and then “shake” the berries free…but I didn’t give that a go.  I ought to have – it took me FOREVER to get the berries off of the branches.

But it’s worth it for this jelly.  Trust me.  It’s so yummy and pretty!

Small-Batch Sea Buckthorn and Apple Jelly

(I added apples to this recipe because I didn’t use commercial pectin – sea buckthorn doesn’t have very much natural pectin, so the addition of a high-pectin fruit helps the jelly set properly.  I had some British Columbia-grown ‘Sunrise’ apples, but use any variety you love.  Crabapples would work as well).

4 cups sea buckthorn berries, washed thoroughly

3 apples, washed, peeled, cored, and diced finely (if you don’t want to go to the trouble, and your apples are organic, you can leave the peels on)

1/2 cup water

Place berries, apples and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer fruit for 20 minutes.  Stir periodically and crush the fruit against the side of the pan with the back of the spoon.  (It all mashes down pretty well on its own, and won’t require much additional help).

Strain the fruit through a jelly bag (or several layers of cheesecloth) over a large bowl.  Don’t force the fruit through the bag – this will make the jelly cloudy and you don’t want that!  Set it up so that the fruit can slowly strain overnight.

In the morning, sterilize your canning jars and lids.   Measure out the juice.  I ended up with 2 cups using this recipe, but your measurement may vary slightly.  Place the juice into a saucepan and mix in an equal amount of white sugar.  Bring the sugar and juice to a rolling boil and boil, stirring constantly, until you’ve reached gel point.

Carefully pour the jelly into the sterilized jars, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (don’t forget to adjust the length of time according to altitude, as specified in this handy chart).  If you plan to eat the jelly soon and don’t want to go to all the trouble of processing jars for storing, you can just pop the jars into the fridge once the jelly is cool.  It is a very small batch, after all…and you’ll be hooked once you have a taste!

Do you grow sea buckthorn in your garden, or do you forage for sea buckthorn berries?  

 Looking for more sea buckthorn berry recipes?

My sea buckthorn berry recipe book, Sea Buckthorn Bounty: Recipes is now available here!

51HB5NUxB3L._AA324_PIkin4,BottomRight,-60,22_AA346_SH20_OU15_

Advertisements

Alpine strawberries.

Way back in the summer of 2006, when I was still working in a garden centre, a grower brought me a flat of samples.  I don’t recall what else was in the tray, but I know there was one alpine strawberry plant (Fragaria vesca ‘Alpine’) tucked in there with the rest.  It came home with me and I planted it in a completely forgettable place behind a lilac.  Over the years the lilac has grown and the little strawberry hideaway has gotten a bit tangled with quackgrass (my excuse is that I can’t/won’t reach back there to pull it – I mean, there could be spiders or beetles or something on the lilac and they might get in my hair)…

IMG_6038

…but, as strawberries are wont to do given time and space, my single plant has been quietly evolving into a little thicket.

I’m so pleased!  We’re looking at a “bumper” strawberry crop this year!    😉

Do you grow strawberries of any kind?  What are your favourites?

“Sprinter” interest: Amur chokecherry.

Amur chokecherry FP

I’ve admired the beautiful bronze bark of this Amur chokecherry (Prunus maackii) since I discovered it and three companions a couple months ago on a site near my workplace.  I will be even more impressed once the trees start blooming….

I only have to wait for a couple more weeks, right?  😉  I had to laugh when I heard the season humorously referred to as “Sprinter” – that seems so perfectly apt!  More snow expected here this weekend….

Do you grow chokecherries or any other Prunus species?  Which ones are your favourites?

Recipe: Sea buckthorn and apple jelly.

(Photo credit:  R. Normandeau)

My hubby and I managed to get out this past Saturday morning and gather some sea buckthorn fruit so that I could try my hand at making jelly from it.  If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you’ll recall that I made a sea buckthorn beverage last year – I just love the citrusy taste of the berries and their gorgeous sun-bright colour.

Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) is a fairly common roadside plant here in Calgary – the City planted many of them years ago, mostly for erosion control on slopes.  It’s one of those shrubs you’d be hard-pressed to kill:  it’s tough-as-nails, drought-tolerant, pollution and salt-tolerant (good for our winter roads and all that de-icing salt), and a fairly aggressive spreader.  You don’t find it employed as an ornamental landscape plant very often, but it’s really very pretty, with silvery-green leaf clusters and the brilliant autumn fruit.  (Both male and female plants are required for fruit production).  Sure, some people may be turned off by the thorns, but they contribute to the shrub’s rabbit and deer resistance, which can’t be a bad thing, right?!

The only thing that irks me to no end about gathering sea buckthorn berries is that it’s just such a difficult process – the fruit only comes off the stems under extreme duress.   The kind of duress that leaves you standing there with bright orange seabuckthorn juice all over your clothes and squirted in your eye.  I’ve read that commercial harvesters of the shrub just go along and prune off fruit-bearing branches, freeze them for awhile, and then “shake” the berries free…but I didn’t give that a go.  I ought to have – it took me FOREVER to get the berries off of the branches.

But it’s worth it for this jelly.  Trust me.  It’s so yummy and pretty!

Small-Batch Sea Buckthorn and Apple Jelly

(I added apples to this recipe because I didn’t use commercial pectin – sea buckthorn doesn’t have very much natural pectin, so the addition of a high-pectin fruit helps the jelly set properly.  I had some British Columbia-grown ‘Sunrise’ apples, but use any variety you love.  Crabapples would work as well).

4 cups sea buckthorn berries, washed thoroughly

3 apples, washed, peeled, cored, and diced finely (if you don’t want to go to the trouble, and your apples are organic, you can leave the peels on)

1/2 cup water

Place berries, apples and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer fruit for 20 minutes.  Stir periodically and crush the fruit against the side of the pan with the back of the spoon.  (It all mashes down pretty well on its own, and won’t require much additional help).

Strain the fruit through a jelly bag (or several layers of cheesecloth) over a large bowl.  Don’t force the fruit through the bag – this will make the jelly cloudy and you don’t want that!  Set it up so that the fruit can slowly strain overnight.

In the morning, sterilize your canning jars and lids.   Measure out the juice.  I ended up with 2 cups using this recipe, but your measurement may vary slightly.  Place the juice into a saucepan and mix in an equal amount of white sugar.  Bring the sugar and juice to a rolling boil and boil, stirring constantly, until you’ve reached gel point.

Carefully pour the jelly into the sterilized jars, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (don’t forget to adjust the length of time according to altitude, as specified in this handy chart).  If you plan to eat the jelly soon and don’t want to go to all the trouble of processing jars for storing, you can just pop the jars into the fridge once the jelly is cool.  It is a very small batch, after all…and you’ll be hooked once you have a taste!

Do you grow sea buckthorn in your garden, or do you forage for sea buckthorn berries?  

 Looking for more sea buckthorn berry recipes?

My sea buckthorn berry recipe book, Sea Buckthorn Bounty: Recipes is now available here!

51HB5NUxB3L._AA324_PIkin4,BottomRight,-60,22_AA346_SH20_OU15_

The last dregs of summer.

Well, like it or not, we’re down to the last dregs of summer.  But there is still so much beauty to behold!

The spiky seed pod of Scabiosa caucasica ‘Perfecta’ (pincushion flower) in my perennial bed…

The delicate, light-as-air seed head of Tragopogon dubius (common goat’s beard)…

The fading flowers of Gaillardia aristata (great blanketflower)…

The shiny hips from Rosa acicularis (prickly rose)…

The plump, juicy fruit of Ribes nigrum (black currant)…

The silky tassels of naturalized Clematis tangutica (yellow clematis)…

The seed pods of Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)…

The unmistakable legume seed pods of Thermopsis rhombifolia (buffalo bean)…

The bright purple blooms of wildflower Symphyotrichum laeve (smooth blue American-aster)…

The fruit of the sour cherry cultivar ‘Letouka’…

And, finally, a very welcome visitor enjoying a little late summer siesta on the bean plants in my shared community garden plot…

Enjoy the changing of the season!  What do you like most about this time of the year?

Merry, merry mountain ash.

During a recent walk in the neighbourhood, I couldn’t help but admire the mountain ash trees, their clusters of bright red berries dusted with fine powdery snow.  They are certainly decked out for the festive season!   The birds weren’t hungry enough this fall to pick the trees clean – judging by the way they went after the Schubert chokecherries in the driveway, mountain ash do not appear to be the current rage in bird food.  Mountain ash trees (also known as “rowan” trees) are common ornamentals in western Canada due to their excellent cold tolerance and general lack of pickiness regarding soil type – plus, with their gorgeous berries and interesting foliage, they have that whole aesthetic thing going on.   Many of the mountain ash trees we have in Alberta are Sorbus americana, with fruit that is so bitter that it is nearly unpalatable to humans, but in Europe, the fruit of Sorbus aucuparia, particularly the cultivar ‘Edulis’, is actually fairly widely used as a condiment.  Fresh-picked, the berries (botanically called “pomes”) are still hard on the tastebuds, but apparently they make an excellent, albeit seriously tart, jelly that is often used with meat and poultry dishes.  If mixed with other berries or fruit, such as apples, blueberries, or blackberries, mountain ash berries can be used to make a sweet jam spread.  And, apparently, in centuries gone by, an alcoholic liquor called diodgriafel – a Welsh specialty – was made from fermented mountain ash berries.  (I don’t know whether or not that particular beverage is still being produced – a call out to anyone who might know, or better yet, have tasted it!).  At any rate, diodgriafel was certainly a libation with a serious health benefit:  mountain ash berries are chock-ful of vitamin C, and were used to ward off scurvy before other vitamin C-rich fruits such as lemons became more accessible to everyone.

Bottom’s up, and happy holidays!

***

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorbus_aucuparia

sacredearth.com/ethnobotany/foraging/rowan.php

countrylovers.co.uk/wfs/wfsberries.htm