An introduction

Thank you for your patience with the update, everyone. We're back in full gear now, and there's someone I'd like to introduce you to. Everyone, meet the autumn olive.

There is nothing like the discovery of a new fruit. Particularly one that grows in your backyard, in abundance, with very little assistance from you. Technically, she doesn't grow in my backyard, but she can probably be found in many of yours. She's a bit of an interloper, introduced from Asia as a highway weed. She was good for stabilizing soil and had pretty white flowers, too, so she was planted in roadsides' wakes.

Now, in a lot of places, she's everywhere. A friend introduced me to her in Dartmouth. She'd found her growing on the side of the street. She began incorporating her berries into jams and sorbets, and a strong new friendship was made. Her berries start off sour but turn suddenly sweet, in an early season blackberry sort of way. They stain your mouth and fillsyour teeth with seeds, but she's charming all the same.

When I left, my friend packed me off with a jar of frozen berries and her recipe for sorbet, which I tried out yesterday.

Or rather, I tried the idea. The idea was to mix a syrup simmered from the berries with sugar or honey, but I made a few tweaks and changes along the way. Mainly, I added a dash of heavy cream, and I kept the berries intact, rather than simply using their juice. This tends to make for a bulkier, seedier sorbet, but for some reason, I like it that way.

If you happen to find one of the plants in your backyard, or just in case you have some berries tucked away, here's the recipe.


Autumn olives
heavy cream

Put autumn olives in a saucepan, cover just barely with water, and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the berries are soft. Add sugar to taste, and simmer, stirring, until dissolved. Put berry mixture in the fridge to chill. When it's cool, puree it in the blender with heavy cream to taste. Put finished puree in an ice cream maker, and freeze according to instructions.

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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.