Wild Black Cherry Syrup

ripening wild black cherries

Ripening wild black cherries

Late this afternoon I checked out our wild black cherry tree.  It looked like a little over a third of the cherries were ripe.

Usually I hold the branches down and pick the cherries by hand.  But it’s pretty time consuming.  So today I put a tarp under the tree and whacked the branches I could reach with a long stick.

It worked, but a LOT of the cherries rolled off into the grass.  And I also got unripe berries, twigs, leaves, two kinds of spiders, inchworms, and a tiny grasshopper in the mix.

It took a while to clean them.  I may have done just as well to pick them by hand.

wild black cherry syrup

Wild black cherry syrup

We don’t eat a lot of jelly, so I decided to make syrup with them.  It didn’t take too long.  I boiled the cherries about 30 minutes, poured everything into a jelly bag and let it drain another 30 minutes.

Then I mixed the cherry juice 50/50 with sugar and simmered it for another 5 minutes.

I made two jars, plus enough left over for immediate use.

I’ll probably use it in tea, lemonade, over ice cream, and to flavor other desserts.

The rest of the cherries should be ripe soon.  I love having wild food growing free for the taking!

The Wonder of Morning

misty morning sun in my yard

Misty morning sunshine in my front yard. Click to enlarge.

I am not normally an early morning person.  But this morning I woke up with an overwhelming need to be outdoors.

I was rewarded by seeing patterns of dew on strawberry and blackberry leaves that I had never noticed before.  Glistening drops that bordered the serrated leaf margins.

strawberry leaf margins bejeweled with dew drops

Indian strawberry leaf margins bejeweled with dew drops

blackberry leaves with dew-jeweled leaf margins

Blackberry leaves with dew-jeweled leaf margins

The black cherry tree in the back yard is festooned with thousands of tiny green cherries.

Young muscadine grape vines are spreading rapidly, promising harvests of the sweetest and best wild grapes in nature.

I just discovered something a few days ago.  I thought when wild lettuce bolted that the leaves were all too bitter to use.  But out of curiosity, I picked a few of the leaves from the top crown that forms when the plant begins to bolt.  The tender young leaves up there were sweet and non-bitter — a delight to eat.

So I had to go back to one of my earlier photos of bolting wild lettuce and edit my caption to add that wonderful new (to me) bit of information!

Tender, sweet crown leaves of bolting wild lettuce

Tender, sweet crown leaves of bolting wild lettuce

Wild cherry tree loaded with thousands of tiny green cherries

Wild black cherry tree loaded with thousands of little green cherries. The camera made them look black already, but they are really all still very green.

wild grape vines

Young muscadine grape vines

I picked a bowlful of salad greens to eat with lunch.  Most have already been pictured in earlier posts.  However, the wood sorrel was a lot larger than  in earlier photos — still tender and bursting with lemony-sour juice.

healthy wood sorrel

Healthy clump of wood sorrel

I also noticed several evening primrose plants growing out by the road.

evening primrose

Evening primrose

I always feel like I am in a wonderland when I am outdoors.  But this misty morning was one of the best ever.

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