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!

Wild Edible Foods in My Yard

Wild strawberries in my yard

Delicious, sweet wild strawberries

Our land is completely surrounded by forest.  We keep the area as natural as possible, which leaves a transition area between the forest and the yard where all kinds of wild plants thrive.

Since we were out camping, the yard went a couple of weeks without mowing.   This also allowed all kinds of cool edible plants to do their thing.

Late this afternoon I took the camera out to see what had sprouted up in our yard in our absence.  I was amazed at the variety I found.

best kind of wild lettuce

This is the best variety of wild lettuce. Tender, and not a hint of bitterness.

There were all kinds of greens at their prime.  I also noticed that the blackberry bushes were covered in little green blackberries, and the blueberry bushes had tiny little green blueberries.

There were many wild strawberries fruiting.  The ones that are reddish orange are not quite ripe.  The ones that are a deep red are beyond description.  Sweeter than any domesticated strawberry with a burst of intense, fruity pleasure.

I have noticed something odd about the poke salad.  It used to have a scrumptious flavor that was a cross between asparagus and green beans.  But this year it is very bland.

I noticed that when I was in Florida, too.  I had picked poke shoots to cook for my sister to show her how good wild edibles could be.  They were so bland I threw them out, rather than introduce her to something that wouldn’t impress her.

I know that Steve Brill says poke salad in New York has a very pungent flavor.  So the taste must vary from location to location.  Maybe all the rain we have had has affected the taste.

The blog editor is  not letting me insert photos where I want them, so they will be out of logical sequence.  For some reason, it is inserting the last photos here instead of at the end.  Hope it’s not too distracting.

wild salad greens

Wild salad greens. I threw the plantain leaves out as they were too tough to serve raw.

Another variety of wild lettuce... slightly bitter

Another variety of wild lettuce. This one is slightly bitter, and is best mixed with other greens.

sheep sorrel with wood sorrel in background

Tangy sheep sorrel with lemony wood sorrel in background

unripe blackberries

Little green blackberries, soon to be fat, juicy, purple blackberries!

unripe highbush blueberries

Little green blueberries

passionflower vine

Passionflower vine promises maypops in a few months

poke salad

Poke salad

common plantain

Common plantain. A decent cooked vegetable. Also edible raw when very young, although I don’t care for it raw.

poke salad shoots ready to cook

Poke salad shoots ready to cook

Packing the Aliner Pantry

I have heard people complain that they are only able to pack 3 or 4 days worth of food in their Aliners.  So I thought I’d share some of my secrets of easily packing food for a week or more.

Packing the Aliner Pantry

Aliner pantry drawers packed in house then brought out to camper

I use plastic drawer units from Walmart, and have one drawer for each type of food.  I pack them inside the house, then carry them out to the camper, ready to slide into the drawer unit under the cupboard.

Aliner pantry drawers

One drawer for each category of food

There is one drawer for canned meats and hearty soups.  One drawer is for spices, one for starchy side dishes like grits, rice, instant potatoes and dehydrated potato dishes (scalloped potatoes), couscous, etc., and one for canned vegetables.

There is also a drawer for our supplements, and a plastic basket that sets on top with cooking oil, flour, corn meal, hush puppy mix, honey, salt, and whatever odds and ends I can stuff into it.

One week's worth of meat in Aliner freezer

I can easily get one week's meat for the two of us in the tiny freezer. If space gets tight, I take the meat out of its original wrapping and put it in zip lock freezer bags.

The freezer easily holds a week’s worth of meat for us.

Aliner refrigerator door with most of the essentials

I still need to add more bottled water to the door shelves

The refrigerator door holds mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, salad dressing, juices, small bottles of milk, pickles, etc.  It’s not completely packed in this picture.  Will add another picture later.

Also I have discovered a way to keep fresh vegetables fresh for a very long time in the refrigerator.  I originally stumbled upon it while trying to keep my vegetables from freezing.  First, I bought a refrigerator fan that keeps the cold air from settling and creating cold and warm pockets of air inside.  Next, I wrap the vegetables in a paper towel, then wrap them in bubble wrap and tape them shut.

The way it extends shelf life is amazing.  I have kept iceberg lettuce for 5 weeks like that, and when I unwrapped it, it looked as crisp and fresh as the day I packed it.

I took a photo, but it turned out fuzzy.  So when I get better pictures I will post them.

We keep most of our sodas and drinking water in a cooler in the back of the truck.  If we have room in the refrigerator, we also keep some handy in there, too.

Next time I’ll show you how I make the most of the rest of the space in the Aliner.

%d bloggers like this: