cheap veggie gourmet

A blog detailing ways to enjoy a gourmet vegetarian diet on the cheap. Check out recipes, food stories, tips and techniques.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Your Father Smells of Elderberries

Sorry for the lack of updates, I ran out of town for a spontaneous trip!

I had to kill some time before picking up a friend yesterday morning to retrieve my car from the side of the highway in Bradenton (long story), so I went to a local playground to take a walk.

Along the way, I saw a bunch of ripe elderberries. I'd never had any, but had wanted to experiment with them for a long time. I carefully filled my big canvas shoulder bag with all the ripe ones I could find. Two notes about raw elderberries: one, the edible plant guides aren't kidding when they say that they have a rank taste and smell; and two, the stuff makes excellent purple dye if you, say, happen to crush a few in the bottom of a cream colored cotton purse.

When I got home that evening, I set about removing the berries from the stems. I wish I'd read one site's advice to use the tines of a fork for this task before I'd completed it by hand. Because the berries are so tiny, it's pretty delicate work.

I only had about half a cup of berries by the time I was done. I'd seen a recipe for a sweet elderberry sauce somewhere, but, of course could not find it now. So, I decided to wing it.

Into the pot went the berries, along with a splash of water and some sugar. I just kept stirring and crushing a few of the berries here and there. I added a little more sugar a few time, as the berries still had a sort of bitter flavor.

Once I'd let everything cook down for a bit, however, the sauce thickened a bit and was rather sweet. The berries have... well... sort of a generic "berry" flavor, maybe something a bit like blackberry pie.

In my wanderings, I also read that the flowers can be eaten right off the plant, or dipped in batter and fried. That's definitely my next experiment.

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