There are many approaches depending on the scale of your harvest, but this is a good
place to start:
FIRST, follow the Foraging Guidelines. Use proper protective equipment. Be aware of your surroundings. THE FOLLOWING DESCRIPTION IS NOT PROFESSIONAL ADVICE. Autumn Berry Inspired, LLC is not responsible for any injury or property damage related to anyone’s personal efforts to harvest. Forage, process, and consume Autumn Olive at your own risk.
- Harvest: Shake the branches onto a tarp. Place a tarp under a fruit-heavy branch and shake or strike the woody branch with a stick. Alternatively, cut a fruit-heavy branch with loppers or a saw, and hold the branch over a tarp while striking it with a stick. If the berries are ripe, they will easily pop off the branch. If the tree is not ready, the unripe fruit will cling to the branch and you should not bother with it. Let that tree continue to ripen and come back another day. Lift the tarp and funnel the fruit into wide totes with bag liners. Remove the bulk of leaves and sticks in the tote, but no need to be meticulous. It will be easier to remove leaves in the “Wash” step.
- Wash: Use a large sink, ideally a three-basin sink. Use colanders and work the fruit from one basin to the next, using the first two basins for floating out debris, and the last basin to perform a kill-step using a food-safe sanitizer. The good fruit will sink in the colander and bad fruit and debris will float. Skim and dispose of anything that floats. Replace water as needed.
- Freeze: Let the fruit in the colander drain, then weigh out 5 pounds or less to pour
into a one-gallon freezer bag. Zip closed. Place the bags in a freezer with room around
each bag for fruit to freeze quicker.
- Cook: Put thawed or frozen fruit in a pan with just enough water to cover the bottom
of the pan. This is a good time to add sugar if desired. Simmer and stir until the red
fruit comes off the yellow seeds. Preferably, put fruit with some water in a pressure
cooker and run through a cycle.
- Immersion blend: (not necessary but helpful) Use an immersion blender on its low
setting to briefly pulse the soupy cooked fruit to separate fruit from seeds. If you blend
too high or too long you will break up the seeds and release the fibers and oily seed
kernels into the puree.
- Strain: There are several possibilities: Smash the cooked fruit with spoons through a
colander. Use a china cap, chinois, or other strainer. Any instrument used to strain
tomatoes may work. You should now have a cooked, seedless puree that can be made
into what you like. To make a juice, squeeze the puree through a tight mesh bag or
cheese cloth or press with a cider or wine press.