Monday, 30 September 2013

Autumn Olive Jam Recipe

So, Mitchell found a rather tasty Autumn Olive bush, and we really got into the harvest.

I figure we got about a quarter bushel.

Now, every recipe I could find online accounted for about 8 cups, or 9 cups of berries. You had to add 1, or 2 cups of water to simmer the berries in. Strain out the seeds and pulp, put it back on the stove with pectin, boil, add sugar, boil hard and can.

Being the Hughes family, we decided to wing it. I couldn't see an 1880's housewife carefully measuring her harvest and cooking accordingly, there had to be a better way.

We washed all of the berries, removing any leaves or little bugs that had come for the ride. We threw them all into a pot, and added about 1/8th of the total volume of water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 min.

Then we strained out the seeds and pulp.

It was at this point that I decided to take a leaf out of David Lebovitz's book. In his Red Currant recipe, he measures the resulting pulp after straining, adds equal amounts of sugar, boils it up and cans it. While that's perfectly appropriate for red currants, which are high in pectin, we weren't sure that was the case with these Autumn Olives.

Weighing the pulp gave us 5lbs, 11 ounces of juice. We plopped it back on the stove with 2 containers of pectin (better safe then sorry), and brought that to a boil. Then we added 5lbs, 11 ounces of sugar, and brought it back to a rolling boil for 1 min.


We ended up with 14 jars of jam that looked very similar to ketchup, and tasted somewhat like a white currant or cranberry. Most wild berries tend to have a generic 'berry' flavour like this.

Keep in mind! Lycopene isn't water soluable, so you might notice that your jam 'seperates' into a clear/white and red layers. This is perfectly normal, and your jam hasn't spoiled! Just mix it in and go on eating it, you're fine.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Autumn Olive Trees

We found a very neat little berry up at the property. This particular bush is right by our front driveway! I made sure to get a picture because the berries were such a neat colour. Where else can you find all of the colours of Autumn in one little bush?

A family friend informed us that these were called Russian Olives, and that we should get rid of them before they took over.

As it turns out, a little research reveals these to be Autumn Olives! The May 2013 edition of Cottage Life tells us that they're found throughout Southern Ontario, and are nutritious and delicious, best used in smoothies, yogurt, or in jams and jellies.

A bit of further research told us that these trees are considered invasive, which explains why we were told to destroy them. I'm so glad that we didn't, even though our argument was that the multi-toned berries were quite pretty. I don't know why it didn't occur to us that they could be edible as well.

Autumn Olives are a fantastic source of Lycopene, that wonderful carotenoid that medical science has us scrambling to eat tomatoes for. Medical science hasn't quite narrowed down what Lycopene is most useful for, as the main food that contains it is tomatoes, which contain an abundance of other vitamins that might be doing the 'health' for us. Honestly though? Both tomatoes and Autumn olives are ripe at the end of the year, just before heading into winter. Nature must be telling us something.

All of the advice that I could find online advised us to try multiple bushes, as they have varying levels of tartness due to the tannins the berries contain. Dad and I found this was quite true, and we seem to have at least 2 bushes that are 'wow' tasting up by the shed.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Peaches are finally ready...September

Well I know that it's getting into apple season but we've just been finishing up with our ripe peaches. Our peach tree is on a south wall that doesn't get much sun. Actually only about 4 hours a day. I planted it as an experiment because it's up against a brick wall. The theory is that the wall will retain the heat when the sun hits it and then the bricks radiate heat beyond the time that the sun is on it. It also is very protected against the winter winds and early spring rains. It takes a lot longer for the peaches to ripen but we get enough peaches to make it all worth while.


Thursday, 5 September 2013

Varroa sugar treatment

As mentioned previously, our hives have Varroa mites and as a family we've decided that we're not going to chemically treat our bees. If we loose our hives then we'll just start over. 

There is a powdered sugar treatment that we've decided to try along with using foundation-less frames. This is our first time so it was all hands on deck again to observe. 

The theory is that you sprinkle powdered sugar throughout the hive and the bees will work to clean themselves & rid themselves of the mite. The mites also find the sugar slippery, loose their grip & fall off. This treatment is also used in conjunction with a bottom mite board. It's a screened bottom so that the mites fall through the screen onto a bottom board that is coated with something sticky. They get suck to the bottom board & cannot get back up into the hive. We have no idea how successful this will be but it's worth the try so I've taken a video of our process.
Sorry...I've tried to upload the video of the process but after 3 days of it working through it's process...I just cancelled it. So no video until I can figure out a faster process.


These are a couple of pics just after we were done. The bees started to beard on the front of the hives. Probably getting used to the new screen board bottoms.