Sunday, February 27, 2011

spring (freezer) cleaning: elderberries and blackberries

it was time to do something with a couple of the bags of foraged berries that’ve been taking up space in the freezer for months. first, elderberries.

four pounds of them. i made a large batch of fabulous elderberry syrup, much different from the batch i made before. this time i didn’t bother with the food mill at all--i just drained and pressed the berries in a fine mesh strainer. this way the syrup doesn’t have tiny bits of berry guts. i also added more seasonings: lots of powdered cinnamon and steeped cloves.

i read in a preserving book that when you can syrup it should be pretty runny, not as thick as a typical commercial syrup, so i didn’t cook this batch as long and i think the viscosity is just right. if you want a thicker syrup then once the jar is open you can add cornstarch or arrowroot powder (mix the powder in a bit of cold water, boil the syrup and add the mixture a little at a time until it reaches the right thickness.) adding a thickening agent before canning is not recommended.

the four pounds of berries yielded three pints of delicious syrup, plus about a cup extra for the fridge.

i made vegan tapioca pudding just so i could mix in some syrup. the combination tastes reminiscent of pumpkin pie filling.

while making the syrup i reserved about two cups of liquid (before adding sugar or seasonings) to try dying a piece of muslin. i’m not a fan of the resulting color, but it was a fun experiment. i’d definitely like to play around more with vegetable dyes. here’s a good resource that shows a chart of different botanical substances you can use to make different colors. here’s another one. i’m going to see if i can check out some library books on the topic. i’d love to naturally dye my own fabrics and yarns.

i had about two pounds of frozen blackberries left, half of which went into the dehydrator to make this tasty raw fruit leather. the other half became part of an abomination. first it was a fruit-sugar slurry, then i thought it would be a good idea to try to make it into a cake. a smoothie muffin cake. i didn’t measure anything or follow a recipe. it’s ugly, and i wish i could say it tastes either delicious or disgusting, but it’s just kinda so-so. i didn’t use enough sugar or salt so it’s a little bland, but surprisingly it baked through properly and the texture is fine.


the Knottie Knitta said...

yummy..if you need some help eating that fruit leather, let me know :)

Emily said...

hehe it's going pretty fast, but i'll make you a batch. i still have a huge bag of mixed blueberries, raspberries and blackberries in the freezer.

Jessica said...

Yum! This post makes me hungry! We made homemade waffles yesterday with a compote of frozen blueberries that we picked last summer. So delicious.

the Knottie Knitta said...

Yaaaaaaaay! :) i decided i'm totally making french toast tonight...with spoontastic elderberry syrup! :)

you will have your jar back shortly ;)

Emily said...

jessica--that sounds very delicious! i haven't had waffles in ages.

spoony--awesome! i'm glad you like it so much, i hope ang likes it too.

Christy said...

Thanks Emily for leaving a comment.

Your seeds are doing well I have to get going with mine.

Your syrup looks yummy!

Lil Bit Brit

Emily said...

thank you christy!