As the weather begins to turn, we scramble with the last of our garden and the tail-end of the foraging opportunities here until the nettle emerges in February or March.
Every week or so the kids deliver tomatoes to neighbors — about three different neighbors each week. It’s our new fall ritual. May it continue for years with abundant tomatoes.
Last-Chance Forage Finds
The spiny fruit of the cactus is the increasingly-famous “prickly pear,” famous for its antioxidant and other health benefits. The boys use tongs to harvest a few near our house. My mom and Frederick came home with a second batch and prickles in their clothing. I hope the nine quarts of prickly pear syrup was worth it. It is a full-flavored syrup in a gorgeous magenta color due to the color in the prickly pear we had access to. Your mileage may vary.
This is our first season harvesting wild grapes, inspired in part by a Facebook comment about their high content of resveratrol — the antioxidant associated with wine. I had tasted some a few weeks ago and wasn’t knocked over by the flavor but earlier this week I found a new stand and the grapes were… (wait for it…) ripe! (It’s good to taste them ripe…) The flavor was exquisite and they made a jelly that everyone here is gushing over. I will pick another batch and we will hope to find the time to process these tiny little berries. They are 2-3 times bigger than an elderberry but they just don’t give up the stem as easily.
Elderberry season is in full swing at lower elevations. You can find some blossoms and lots of berries. We canned about ten quarts of syrup this summer from plants at our elevation and now I work on a version without added sugar. My boys don’t seem to have a problem burning through extra sweetener in their elderberry tea. Their mama is another matter entirely. This is my stash — stewed with mulling spices. I’ll sweeten it to taste as I use it in my own drinks.