With the days getting shorter, my motivation and energy for any canning or preserving is also shrinking. And frankly and thankfully, there is no real need for it. The freezer and the basement shelves are well stocked.
And I finally found time to get on my bike again. Yet coming back from a ride, I spotted a large bush full of ripe autumn olives, aka autumn berries, along our driveway. That was the end of the short break. The canner and pressure cooker, which had already been stored away, came back down.
There was no way I would pass on those delicious autumn berries. I hadn’t been able to get my hands on any since I discovered them three years ago. The birds were always faster. They must have simply overlooked that bush. It’s a bit of a payback for the elderberries that the birds pick clean even before they are fully ripe. This year I did not harvest a single elderberry.
Coincidentally, nearby Spring Mountain Farm had lots of kiwiberries (hardy kiwis) for self-picking. I had never picked them and couldn’t resist. Knowing my squirrel mentality, I took only a small basket along which I filled within fifteen minutes. Compared to most other berries, and certainly their flavor relatives, gooseberries, kiwiberries are very easy and fast to pick.
I made some quick no-bake kiwiberry tartlets for dessert and simple compote, which has almost jam-like consistency, as kiwiberries are very high in pectin.
The unexpected autumn berry harvest went into Autumn Berry Sauce and Autumn Berry Fruit Leather. And from some extra autumn berry sauce, I made autumn berry popsicles.Now that all the canning and preserving equipment is back in the kitchen, I might as well make applesauce tomorrow.
1 pound (450 g) ripe to very ripe kiwiberries
¼ cup (50 g) sugar, to taste
1 4-inch (10 cm) strip of organic lemon peel
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or ½ teaspoon ground ginger (optional), to taste
1. Cut the berries in half and place them in a heavy saucepan with the lemon peel. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, stir in the sugar and cook, stirring regularly, until the berries are very soft and the mixture is thickened. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the berries cook dry while the skins are still hard.
2. Remove from the heat, discard the lemon and add vanilla or ginger if using. Cool and refrigerate; use within 1 week. Or fill the piping hot compote into sterilized jars placed on a damp kitchen towel, leaving about ½ inch (1.25 cm) headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp piece of paper towel to remove any drips. Place the lids and the bands on the jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Makes 1 pint jar
Kiwiberry Mini Tartlets
3 tablespoons (45 g) unsalted butter
6 graham crackers
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
½ cup (120 g) 0% Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar or vanilla extract and sugar, to taste
12 ripe but firm kiwiberries, sliced thinly
1. Lightly brown the butter in a small frying pan. Let cool slightly.
2. Process the graham crackers in a food processor to fine crumbles. Add the butter and brown sugar and pulse until evenly combined. Press the mix in a 12-mold mini tart pan.
3. In a bowl stir the Greek yogurt with the vanilla sugar until smooth. Spread 1 tablespoon on each tart. Arrange kiwiberries slices on top in an overlapping pattern.
4. Place the tartlets in the freezer for 1 hour until the graham cracker crust is firm but not frozen. Serve immediately.
Makes 12 tartlets
Photos by Ted Rosen