I love foraging for free food, so I was intrigued when a friend mention that he had recently tried Autumn Olive berries. After a quick internet search (to learn how to i.d. the plants) I went to one of my favorite foraging locations to hunt down some free fruit.
Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) happens to be non-native invasive species that was planted in the U.S. for erosion control and sometimes as forage for wildlife. It also happens to contain many times more lycopene than tomatoes. I didn't have a camera with me while foraging, but the leaves are metallic silver on the underside, making them fairly easy to identify. The berries also have little silver/gray scales on them when ripe, which helps distinguish them for all the other reddish berries out there in the fall.
I picked a little over a gallon, which took FOREVER! The majority of the Autumn Olive plants that I had found had a sparse sprinkling of berries...and I didn't know any better to look for better plants. It wasn't until I was almost ready to head home that I found the mother-load of berries on a tree that was smothered in them. All I had to do was put the branch inside my bag and strip the fruit of the branch.