My apologies to my readers. I have been swamped making the final edits to my Master's Thesis. But, as of today it has been submitted elevating me to the status of Master Forager!
Even over the last few busy weeks, we still managed quite a few after-work foraging adventures. One such outing was inspired by bushcraft expert Ray Mears...hawthorn fruit leather.
Hawthorn is a delicious little berry with a ton of natural pectin. As a result, if you squeeze the berries into a mush, they will solidify into a jello-like consistency in an hour's time. This unique quality has led some to conclude that this fruit may have been pivotal to making the first jelly and jam.
Many folks love a strawberry rhubarb pie, but are surprised to learn that portions of the rhubarb plant are poisonous. The same goes for hawthorn who's berries are delectable, but cyanide-rich pits are deadly! So like all foods, we learn just how to prepare and consume them so that their greatest potential is reached.
We began by harvesting the berries.
Next the stems were removed.
Finally the fruit was squeezed and mixed with foraged peach (hawthorn berries are a bit dry this time of year and need a little added water or juice). Care was taken to remove all poisonous pits from the mixture as well. Keep in mind that this is about an hour long step, so be patient when you try it.
Next the slop was placed into a glass bowl to congeal.
After an hour the solid fruit loaf was removed and sliced.
After a few hours in the sun all the moisture had evaporated and though the fruit leather didn't look all that tasty, it certainly wasn't half bad!
An added bonus according to Ray Mears is the ability of this fruit leather to preserve for well over a year! When it comes to foragable food, such a shelf life is a major plus.
Keep the old ways alive!