October 1, 2012

Foraging for Autumn Olive

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.


  1. Have you come up with some efficient way of separating the stems from the berries? I easily got a load of berries, but it took literally hours to get the stems off them before boiling.

    1. I boiled the berries (stems and all) and then ran them through a food mill to remove the seeds and stems.

      Picking them took forever!


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