It's full swing autumn, here in New England. Possibly my favorite time, the crisp air, the changing leaves, preparing for hibernation, and autumn olives.
If you've never tasted the tart-sweetness of an autumn olive, it is time you did. Autumn olives, also known as autumn berries, are extremely abundant this time of the year. Not only delicious, these berries are purveyors of vitamins A, C and E, flavonoids, essential fatty acids and are loaded with lycopene. They are a truely local superfood. And my husband views it as such, squirreling it away for us (but making sure to leave enough for the birds and some for the plant). My husband and I have grand plans on preserving the harvest: freezing, concentrating, drying, blending, tincturing. What a wonderful medicine to aid us on our winter adventures.
The shrub is easy to identify. My daughter points out the silvery shimmer of their under-leaf as we make our way through town. "Mom, autumn olives!" She'll yell as we are driving down the road, taking note as to where we'll be able to harvest this year's goodies. My four year old picks the gold-speckeled, red berry out of a line up including autumun olive, poke berry and the deadly night shade berry, positive that he has picked the only edible fruit of the three. My children can identify a growing number of edible and medicinal plants at this point, but by far their favorite is their precious (and, unfortunately for the environmentalist in me, wildly invasive) autumn olive. Lucky for us we have more than we can handle, only a few steps away, giving us and our bird friends a convenient way to dine together for a few cherished weeks of the year.
For more information on the autumn olive, check out this link: