On Thanksgiving weekend each year we forage for Autumn Olives. They are an invasive species where we live, and can be found in abundance all around our area. We have particular places we always go, and favourite bushes to pick from. They can sometimes have a chalky, acrid aftertaste which can be unpleasant, so I am always the taste tester! The boys love the berries, and we had to stop them from eating what we’d already picked.
This year we did some picking with the kids and my parents, then headed back to their house for a lovely harvest meal of zucchini soup, bread, quinoa salad, and my aunt and uncle’s eggs. It was a lovely Thanksgiving morning. My parents were gracious enough to watch the boys while the baby slept so that we could go back out and harvest more.
Last night we cleaned and picked over the berries, ground them up in our blender, and set them to dry as fruit leather. We mixed most of the Autumn Olives with apples to stretch them further. I prefer the straight Autumn Olive leather because I love sour things, but both yielded excellent results. I lived on Autumn Olive fruit leather while pregnant last fall and winter, and have been craving it ever since. It is so high in vitamin C and is better than tomatoes for lycopene! The fruit leather makes a wonderful treat to pull out of the fridge in the dead of winter.
In case you want to go forage your own Autumn Olives, here are a few identifying markers to help. The berries are small, about the length of a cotton swab tip. They are slightly speckled. The bushes are usually about 8 feet tall, so slightly taller than your arm’s reach. The leaves are oblong and smooth, with the underside of the leaf a silver colour (see photo below).