Week 5 ~ the autumn olive ~ 10.21.2015

As early as 9pm on Sunday, temperatures started dipping below freezing.   By 6AM the next day it was 11 degrees below freezing.  Plants and animals had to withstand 12 whole hours of below freezing temperatures.

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eggplants after the October freeze

All the animals are fine, although the quail are now protesting by refusing to give us any more eggs.  All the summer crops are now gone; and even some of our winter hardy greens sustained considerable damage.  Last year we didn’t get a deep freeze like this one until January.  This year’s weather has been unfavorable for farming; no rain in the Spring, a cold Summer, and then a deep freeze in early October.  If it continues to freeze, yeah, I might have some trouble filling up your boxes.

But as of right now, we are blessed with nature’s bounty – this week’s CSA items include potatoes, orange carrots, yellow onions, autumn olives, and a green (tat soi for JP, bok choy for Revere, broccoli for Quincy, or nappa for Providence).

But the focus here is on the Autumn Olives – wildly foraged, washed, and delivered to you!   I’m including it in the CSA because it’s like an incredible secret that no one seems to know about.   They are all around us.  And once you learn to identify the silvery underside of its leaves, you will start seeing them every where you go.   They’re quite an amazing tree.   For one, it’s fruit contains an unusually high amount of antioxidant lycopene, in fact 17 times higher than tomatoes.  Lycopene is considered an important phytonutrient, and is thought to prevent or fight cancer of the prostate, mouth, throat and skin, and to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

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Originally from Asia (and they are aka as Japanese silverberry), they were introduced here in the 1930s and 1940s by the Mass Highway Department and planted up and down 95 to provide a windbreak for cars on the highway. They were also planted by the U.S. Soil Conservation Service.  Because of its ability to fix nitrogen from the air, it can thrive in depleted and barren soils, and has spread so profusively that it is now considered an invasive species.   They also place a significant role as food for animals, since they fruit in October and November when there’s not many other fruits around.

autumn olives

autumn olives

So eat them because they are local (invasive), eat them because you should fight cancer, eat them because they taste great!   They have a sweet, tart, and slightly astringent taste which can make your mouth pucker.   Use it in a salsa, steak sauce, meat glaze, pie filling, ice cream topping, jams and preserves.   Sprinkle some on top of your cereal, in a salad, or on a dessert.

They particularly make incredible fruit leather and jam.   So let me know if you’re interested in going foraging with me and you can collect buckets full!

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