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Mother Nature, she is good to me

I'm not much of a wildcrafter, though I would love to be. I'm like the little child, always curious about the way things smell and taste, and Julien is forever telling me, "Don't put that in your mouth."  However, since getting pregnant, I'm much more careful what I consume, never you fear.  Still, even babe-in-the-woods me can identify with ease and surety the bounty that surrounds our home, from the wild asparagus and strawberries growing (well, that *were growing;* season is sadly at an end) just on the other side of our excuse for a yard, to the wild onions, cherries, and plums in the fields bordering the Loire.

Like the strawberries and asparagus, the season for onions and cherries is at an end. I picked the 1.2kgs of cherries in the photo below just the other day, but already I knew that it was too late. The fruits were drying, hardening around their stone hearts, and bees and flies were not happy to share the last of the bounty with me.  I do, however, have some of my juicier first pickings in the freezer and am anticipating a cherry pie or, if I want to make my husband happy, a clafoutis. The prunes are just starting, though, and I gleaned two kilos, which have been made into jam and canned whole* to enjoy later in a yoghurt or a fruit salad.

You might wonder what a photo of pizza is doing amongst my other finds. Well, the last of the wild onions found their way into those glorious seafood, spinach, and goat cheese creations, so I thought why not.

Jam is not the only thing I have been making. Someone very dear to my heart (*refrains from pointing fingers at her husband*) bought a canister (500g) of yeast that expires August 13. Of 2010. That is enough yeast to transform 100kg--yes, kilograms--into leavened goods. No way I can use all of that, but I made a start with whipping up a batch of whole wheat, grainy pizza dough (for the yumminess above). I also baked a loaf of bread yesterday. Does the season for baking ever transform into something else?

And speaking of seasons, soon I will be able to harvest blackberries, walnuts, hazelnuts and apples! Even milkweed pods if I'm adventurous and wildcrafty.** Bring it on, Mother Nature; I'm ready for you.

*This is an easy, delicious thing to do, which I learned from my mother-in-law:  Put your washed fruit into a canning jar along with a tablespoon of sugar (the fruit makes its own juice) and pop the jars into your pressure cooker. Steriilze for 10 minutes once the cooker has started whistling. Let the pressure fall off naturally. Cool the jars and check the seal.  Voila, nothing could be easier.

This is my first attempt. Pretty, huh?

I'll let you know how they taste once Julien comes home to try a batch with me.

** Has anyone on my flist ever eaten milkweed pods?


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 23rd, 2010 03:34 pm (UTC)
Isn't summer wonderful?

The selection of pictures you've shared is so *red*--beautiful. So bright--living jewels.

My brother-in-law lived for a while in France, and one thing I remember him telling me about was picking the abundance of cherries. Not that we don't have them here, but somehow I associate them with France, and your words and photos reinforce that.

I harvested some blackberries yesterday and put them into a blackberry crumble. Delicious.

The cherries that you picked that were hardening--is there anything you can do with them at that point? Can you still do the trick of putting them in the jar with the sugar, for instance?

I've eaten other wild things, but never milkweed pods. I imagine you have to do them when they're still very young, before the seeds and the silk starts becoming distinct?
Jul. 23rd, 2010 04:01 pm (UTC)
Summer is wonderful! But why do you have your blackberries already and I don't? :P Mine are still hard, green fists. Can't wait to make a blackberry crumble of my own. :D

As for the cherries, I think they were too dry to do the sugar trick. I can't imagine them rendering enough juice to make their own syrup. I made jam with the ones I picked, but it did not turn out as good as the first batches with younger, juicier fruit.

I read that milkweed pods do have to be picked young and small, less than 1.75 in. in length. Here are two sites where I read about eating the pods (I identified a patch too late in the season to take advantage of the other edible plant parts): http://www.wildfoods.info/wildfoods/milkweed.html and http://www.squidoo.com/milkweed
Lovely icon, btw!
Jul. 23rd, 2010 06:43 pm (UTC)
Thanks re: icon--and even bigger thanks for the milkweed links. I have some growing right in my yard. If they haven't gotten too big by the time I get home, I'll try.
Jul. 23rd, 2010 06:45 pm (UTC)
As for why we have blackberries--good question. This year has been two weeks ahead of usual. Usually they wouldn't begin coming ripe until sometime in August.
Jul. 23rd, 2010 04:53 pm (UTC)
You could probably stew those dried cherries and then bake them into a pie, but the texture would be different.

Here in Central Virginia, the blackberries are several weeks' done. Cherries and strawberries finished up a while back, too. I envy you your bounty. *g*

(I have plums in the freezer, waiting until it cools off this autumn to be made into jam. It'll be my first attempt, so wish me luck!)
Jul. 23rd, 2010 05:07 pm (UTC)
I wish I had enough room in my freezer to keep back some plums. :( We have a tiny two-drawer affair that is already full. And I do wish you luck! I'm always cutting back on sugar amounts, so each of my jam-making experiences is an adventure. :P This last batch of cherry jam was made with raw organic cane sugar, so the final product has a molasses flavor. :P
Jul. 23rd, 2010 05:24 pm (UTC)
One of the benefits of having a big kitchen - I have a full upright freezer in addition to the small one atop the fridge.
Jul. 23rd, 2010 05:31 pm (UTC)
We had a nice deep freezer in Mayotte (had to have some place to put all that fish Julien speared!), but sadly, yeah, small kitchen here. One of these days, though, one of these days I'll have me another!
Jul. 23rd, 2010 06:35 pm (UTC)
Looks yummy!
Jul. 23rd, 2010 07:57 pm (UTC)
What I've tasted so far has been yummy. :D
Jul. 24th, 2010 04:21 am (UTC)
If it wasn't for you, I would count the days for me to be back home, so that I can enjoy all of these goods...Love you my Chef.
Jul. 26th, 2010 12:32 pm (UTC)
And now you are coming home on the 28th! Woohoo! A whole day earlier. I shall make you a lovely gazpacho and we'll have grilled duck breast and Shaker Lemon pie with whip cream! Yum, yum!

Oh, and we'll have to try the plums, of course. :D
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )


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