Canning season restart

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. Continue reading

Foraging with Laszlo: Discovery of new tastes

Laszlo and crabapples

The munching explorations of Laszlo, our new puppy, has had me in stitches more than once this summer. When I trimmed and bundled garlic, the puppy was sitting underneath the patio table chewing on leaves and stalks that fell down. I did not realize that a big fat garlic clove had dropped down as well, until my husband, who was lying down with a headache and cuddled with Laszlo for comfort, wondered about the puppy’s intense garlic smell, which made him feel even worse. Continue reading

In pursuit of black raspberry vinegar

Wild black raspberries

A few years ago I bought a bottle of black raspberry vinegar from Montgomery Place Orchards in the Hudson Valley, as a gift for my cousin and his girlfriend in Germany. They liked it so much that I bought a second bottle for my next visit, but then had to tell them this would be the last one, because after our daughter graduated, we would no longer make frequent trips to Annandale-on-Hudson. I suspect one of the motives of my cousin and his now wife for spending their summer vacation in the US this year is to load up on black raspberry vinegar… There are no black raspberries in Germany, they are a North American specialty.

We have a few black raspberries on our grounds, usually not enough to get excited about. This year however seemed different. I spotted brambles full of berries and picked a handful for fruit tart the other day, making a note to myself to get more. It took me a few days to work up the energy to leave my cool office and actually do it – in 90 degrees Fahrenheit and 55 percent humidity, covered up head to toe with boots, long sleeves, hat, protective glasses, and gloves. Even the dog, usually following me everywhere and inching forward with me sphinx-style when I pick strawberries, preferred to stay in the house.

For a good hour or so, I disappeared into the thicket. It was work but I picked more berries than I had hoped for. And I even found a large patch of blackberries, to return to in August. I don’t think I have had this explorer/discoverer feeling since I was a kid. When I came back to the house I was filthy and slightly scratched yet exhilarated and happy.

Of course the black raspberries had to go into black raspberry vinegar. For all that effort, I want something lasting. For instant gratification, there were enough berries left for a quick dessert for two.

I had made raspberry vinegar before, according to a recipe from the River Cottage Preserves Handbook, and found it a bit too sweet. This time I followed the recipe recently posted by Phoebe’s Pure Food.

It remains to be seen if the black raspberry vinegar will be as good as the one I gave away as a gift. Maybe knowing that it was made with the berries I foraged will make up for the difference in taste.

Raspberry vinegar & dessert