During an autumn walk in Switzerland we noticed the beautiful berries of the Rowan trees high in the mountains. I had once tried to make marmalade from them, but it was completely inedible, much too bitter. But once I had eaten a homemade compote and it was quite tasty. So I was ready to try again.
There are many recipes on the Internet, but this is the one Marketa K. uses. It is a traditional Czech way of preparing these slightly bitter fruits. It is most often used to prepare lingonberries and it might be interesting to try on cranberries:
Wash the fruits and put them in a steel pot.
Add a lot of sugar. Do not add water.
Put the pan in the oven at 80 - 100 degrees Centigrade.
Leave for approximately one hour until all sugar has dissolved.
Leave overnight to cool. The fruits now float in a sugary juice.
Separate the fruits from the juice using a sieve.
Cook the juice with cinnamon and lemon peel.
Put the fruits in sterilized jars and add the hot juice.
For questions like these I Always refer to my trusted Gessner - Orzechowski. Just the names of the authors make this a "mad scientist" book and this is enhanced by the title: Poisonous and medicinal plants of Middle Europe. But is serious research, although it may be old fashioned because it was written in 1974.
- Parasorbic acid is a strong locally irritating agent. Vapors from fresh fruit irritate the eyes and nose and especially the mucous membranes of the mouth and digestive tract.
- Cases of poisoning in humans are very rare.
- The parasorbic acid is destroyed by cooking.
During a walk through the Utrecht hill range we saw a lot of elderberry bushes. The fruit looked beautiful and enticing and fortunately I had a plastic bag with me (note to self: do this always). It is very satisfying to find such richness in nature (but I know that this would not be sustainable at all).
I tried the first recipe I found on the Internet:
Cook the elderberries together with apple parts and lemon juice.
I used a volume ratio of 3 parts elderberries - 2 parts apple.
I did not have lemons so I used orange juice.
Cook 30 minutes until the apple parts are soft.
Puree the mix using a hand blender. Be careful: this sprays everywhere and the colour is very intensive!
Add a lot of sugar and cook for 15 minutes.
And what do Gessner - Orzechowski say? Just this:
- Ripe berries are not poisonous. But not all hope is lost:
- After eating fresh bark intensive vomiting has been observed. And:
- Eating the fresh fruit could theoretically cause cyanide poisoning, but this has never been observed.
Gift und Arzneipflanzen in Mitteleuropa - Gessner-Orzechowski