DH had a surprise for me last night when he arrived home, as he often will do on his way home from the feed store he took a new route home and when he came though the door, he was excited to show me something he had found on a tiny back road, as he handed these lovely clumbs of rich dark berries on twigs, he asked if I knew what they were, I took one look and was delighted.. Black Choke Cherries!
I know this fruit, and only needed to bite down into a cherry to hit the pit, see how ripe they were and get that lovely cottenish/pucker bite in my mouth, this was very mild, these were some perfectly ripe berries, just bursting with juice.
I asked how many and I am thrilled to hear that we have a very large clumb of a number of mature bushes and even more excited that he says there is for sure 4 to 6 small bushes perfect for digging out and transplanting to the farm, I will thank the patch by hauling out tubs of compost and will fill the holes left from digging the baby bushes out by filling it in for the bigger ones.. Not only so there will be no holes for us to step in next year but also because it will feed the bushes that I want to harvest from.. Don’t worry, i’m not picking on private property, these are wild ditch fruit.
From the sounds of it, it will be possable to get a number of five gallon buckets full easily and I am so excited to add this fruit, I will be making some into wine/vinagar, some into juice with a small amount into jelly but most of it will be dried and lots made into fruit leather..
If there is extra after that, I will dry the fruits with pits in and use them as extra high quality chicken feed in late winter. While I have not seen them yet, I will be looking to see how or why these bushes are having such a bumper crop on such a dry year, I am guessing they must bump up to a good underground water level but more on that later!
Just had this thought that made me laugh, I put down free food, and it is in the terms of being there for the picking but I guess that is not really true, it will cost gas to get there, time to pick, time to sort the berries, time to cook, dry and or put though the mill, it will take jars, lids, canner etc to put this fruit up.. so in a way, its really not free, but I am excited about it none the less!
Free is a relative term here I think…. I too always look at food harvested from the wild as ‘free’ even though there are other costs involved as you note. BUT….There’s the other FREE in the mix as I see it. While I’m out harvesting wild food, I’m FREE from a boss telling me what to do, FREE from being taxed on my life energy (aka a paycheck), free from the hustle/bustle life of commuting and all that entails and so forth. I love your FREE food. If you’ve never made choke cherry wine, you should give it a go, it comes out awesome! I think in part because of the inherit tartness…
Just wanted to say that I love these ideas of “free” – free food seems to go a lot further than just paying money for something, and hold a lot of other really great meanings.
Great ideas for use of choke cherries! They grow wild around these parts as well. I always make it into syrup to have over pancakes. Adding a bit of almond extract makes it taste a lot like cherry pie.
I just bought two aronias yesterday for our new food forest and they sell for between $10 and $25 at nurseries so I think you are getting a bargain!
Thanks for letting me know, Where I can I read more about your food forest, I am really enjoying mine, and am working to add more layers etc.. I guess if I can bring home 4 bushes plus the fruit itself, it would be fair to say that it will More! then pay for that bit of gas.. I just heard from DH that he took a walk to our wild plum area and that they are doing well, which means that hopefully we will have a good plum crop.
I haven’t written anything about it because it’s brand new (the plants are still in pots!) but I hope to write a post about it and how i convinced my employer to let me plant it – if I ever get time to blog again…