How often have you stumbled onto a new food and wondered what to do with it? “Sample it,” is a good idea. What if it’s a food that you are interested in preserving and you wonder what its qualities are? “Sample it.” Let me explain.
We have been leveraging our large forest bounty more and more and this summer we added two new berries to our repertoire: wild gooseberries and currants.
The gooseberries are as prickly as I’ve ever seen a fruit and at least as challenging to harvest as the thorny wild blackberries or the piercing prickly pear.
The wild currants would be a dream to harvest if they weren’t so small. It takes real time to come home with a gallon.
I know you have crazy berries like this near you and you may rightly ask:
They may be edible raw in which case, you have an easy solution: Eat them.
Gooseberries have to be carefully cut in half and the tiny bit of fruit scooped out to eat it raw. It is hardly worth it. Our currants in this drought season are not loaded with flavor raw, but what about cooked?
Before making a giant commitment in harvesting time to any of these wild morsels of antioxidants, harvest a small amount — a cup — and cook them. Once cooked, check out their assets. It is that simple.
With the gooseberries, we cooked them and put them through a strainer to squeeze out their juice and leave the pricklies behind. The flavor was good but not outstanding. We spread the bit of juice on a plate and let it cool. What we learned was that wild Sierra gooseberries are LOADED with pectin. You would have to cut your gooseberry jelly with a knife, it would be so thick. We will pick more to use in combination with other pectin-challenged fruit.
Our experience was similar with currants. First, we found the flavor to have a bit more depth when cooked and discovered them to be another rich source of pectin.
Both of these fruits are loaded with antioxidants and if my boys are going to insist on jam on their yogurt, I love the idea that at least part of that jam comes from these wild fruits.
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