Thursday, October 16, 2008

Elderberry Seeds



Continuing on the theme of wild edibles, here is something you should eat but certainly not kill. In fact, I hope to propagate this valuable shrub around the pond in the woods behind my house.

Pictured above are the seeds of an elderberry already growing out back, here seen drying on a repurposed pamphlet about the Organization for the Assabet River. You can see from the watercolor effect surrounding them that the juice of the berries is a deep reddish-indigo.

Just the name "elderberry" has a strong pull on the imagination. Perhaps it's the rich literary history associated with the plant, proof that we humans have had a long relationship with it. Or perhaps it's the mention in the most recent Harry Potter book, or the already mystical and English name. I've always thought that it sounded like something that would make you wiser if you ate it.

As I've said in previous posts, I prefer the elderberry unaltered as a raw, musky snack. I'm sure the jams, tarts, pies and syrups people are so fond of making are wonderful, but I like to savor the undomesticated taste of these fruits in as unadulterated a way as possible. Call it ingredient based "cooking." But there is something very wine like about their flavor, and when I find a large enough stand, I do hope to someday make the infamous elder wine.

From what I've read, the best way to spread elderberries is by winter wood stem cuttings, so I'll try that in addition to sprouting these seeds. I'll keep them outside, letting them experience the freeze as they naturally would. Then come spring I'll try to grow them indoors in the rich mud from the banks of the pond, basically mimicking the natural process with a little shove for good measure.

I don't know if I'll live at this property long enough to (literally) reap the fruits of my labor, but I do know that at least the raccoons will.

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5 comments:

Karen B said...

I'm tantalized by your mention of literary examples. I think that Victorian children were allowed berry wines quite often--not that grape wine was off limits completely either. Maggie and Tom Tulliver drink some sort of berry wine and eat nuts in _The Mill on the Floss_, and I think that elderberry wine is what Anne of Green Gables gets tipsy on in L.M. Montgomery's book. What literary works did you have in mind.

Anonymous said...

Found you through 101.....
would like to read more but I just can't stay with black background blogs. Sorry...looks interesting.

Anonymous said...

Off the subject, sorry, but wanted to say thanks for the recommendation of Codman Community Farms a while back.

I finally made it there this weekend, and--holy cow, how cool. I've been buying raw dairy for a while through the whole serve yourself in a barn thing, but had no idea you could buy meat the same way.

Bought goat stew meat and several pounds of beef marrow bones. Looking forward to going back.

Aaron said...

Anonymous #1,

Black backgrounds save energy.

Anonymous #2,

So glad I could help. The marrow bones are a real ace up your sleeve in the kitchen. Now what barn have you been buying raw milk in?

Karen,

Stay tuned.

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