[NAFEX] autumn olive bitterness

John S swim_at_svc at yahoo.com
Sun Sep 7 22:32:00 EDT 2008


Hank, Alan, Hector and all, 

Please let's get a few things clear.  I thought NAFEX was about fruit exploration.  There was a comment about an undesirable feature of many Autumn Olives that suggested this feature was caused by the seed.

Having become interested in AO's a few years ago, I set out to explore what might be causing this unpleasantness in an otherwise desirable fruit.  I did this with what was available to me at the time, three wild trees I had found with differing tastes and maturities and "quality".   One is pretty good, one mediocre and one significantly unpleasant.  So I set out to check out the components of the fruit, for my own curiosity and benefit.  I tried to remove the speckling on the fruit, thinking this might be the cause.  Granted this was no easy task, but I accomplished with a few fruits.  This did not see to matter much or be the cause of the "bitterness".  So my next step was to try to separate the skin from the fruit and see if I could isolate a source.  An noted, this is not perfect nor easy to do.  The results I obtained suggested to me that the skin was the major source of the "bitterness".  I did this before I ever joined NAFEX or even heard
 of it.  I tried to share that information thinking that NAFEX members might appreciate the insight from someone who made the effort to figure this out instead of guess.

I did not recommend that people peel the fruit.  I do not routinely attempt to peel the fruit myself (no, it's not easy or fun).  I was trying to better understand the fruit and how I might process it.  And yes, I have been consuming AO for years now and I can tell the difference between a good cultivar and a poor one, as well as the difference between a ripe and unripe fruit.

So if you are curious about the cause of the "bitterness" be it alum, tannin or something else, and don't want to take my word for it, by all means make the effort to see for yourself.  I thought that's what this organization was about.  We explore fruit and share what we learn (or think we learn) with others.

Regarding AO flowers and smell, for me it is neither overwhelming nor missing.  It is subtle and pleasant, much the same effect for me as corn pollen.

Excuse me while I go peel my aronia harvest from today...


--- On Sun, 9/7/08, Hank Burchard <hank at burchard.org> wrote:
From: Hank Burchard <hank at burchard.org>
Subject: Re: [NAFEX] autumn olive bitterness
To: nafex at lists.ibiblio.org
Date: Sunday, September 7, 2008, 9:09 PM

John and Alan,

I am bemused by all this talk of bitterness and astringency in autumn 
olives -- and amazed  that anyone would attempt to peel such tiny soft 
fruits. None of my 18 AOs -- Hidden Springs's six cultivars and a dozen 
selections from the wild -- has the characteristics y'all are 
complaining about. And there is NO WAY a ripe AO can be peeled; when 
ripe the fruits are so soft you can eat them by the handful, pressing 
out the easily separated seeds with your tongue and spitting them out. 
If you need to chew the fruits they're not ripe, and they'll pucker you

up like a green persimmon.

The juice is easily extracted without crushing the seeds, which are 
quite hard and tough. I heat the fruit gently in a wide, flat-bottomed 
pot and smoosh it with a potato masher. Then I use a chinois and pestle 
to express the juice and then pour it through a fine-meshed sieve, at 
which point it's ready to drink or, better yet, to be made into jelly 
(which has won me prizes at several county fairs). The juice is so far 
from astringent that I add a little cranberry extract to give a little 
more tartness.

The test for ripeness is taste rather than appearance; AOs color up well 
before they ripen. And unless you  live waaay up north, you should have 
sufficient degree days to fully mature them: autumn olives grow wild 
from Florida to Canada.

Hank Burchard
Pecker Wood Farm
7b central Virginia


> Message: 1
> Date: Sun, 7 Sep 2008 10:40:18 -0700 (PDT)
> From: John S <swim_at_svc at yahoo.com>
> Subject: Re: [NAFEX] autumn olive and peaches
> To: North American Fruit Explorers <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Message-ID: <73362.4388.qm at web39103.mail.mud.yahoo.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
>
> Alan,? From personal experience, I do not chew the seeds and hence they do
not appear to affect the taste of the fruit to me.? It appears to me that the
quality about autumn olive consumption you object to lies in the skin of the
fruit.? As an experiment, I have in the past polished them to remove the
speckling from the outside of the skin, which helped somewhat, but peeling the
fruit (insanity, I know) produces a much better experience.
>
> John
>  
>
>
> --- On Sun, 9/7/08, Alan Haigh <alandhaigh at gmail.com> wrote:
> From: Alan Haigh <alandhaigh at gmail.com>
> Subject: [NAFEX] autumn olive and peaches
> To: nafex at lists.ibiblio.org
> Date: Sunday, September 7, 2008, 8:33 AM
>
> OK, I thought I might get into trouble?siting alum as the source of
puckeryness, I thought that was the compound that made pecan shells so
unpalatable- that's how my autumn olives taste and it is transferred to the
preserves because I know of no adequately gentle way of removing the seeds
without getting their flavor in the juice.? I'm in the northeast so it's
highly possible that we lack the heat units to properly ripen the Hidden Springs
cultivars which is precisely my point.? I still defy you to find another member
with experience with autumn olive who doesn't consider them extremely
fragrant where ever in the country they grow them.
>
> Alan Haigh, the Home Orchard Co.
> _______________________________________________
>
>
>
>
> Message: 3
> Date: Sun, 7 Sep 2008 17:21:42 -0400
> From: "S & E Hills" <ehills7408 at wowway.com>
> Subject: Re: [NAFEX] autumn olive and peaches
> To: <swim_at_svc at yahoo.com>,	"'North American Fruit
Explorers'"
> 	<nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Message-ID: <00cf01c9112f$bb88ce50$0300a8c0 at hills2003>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
>
> No way I could (even if I wanted) peel a fruit that is 2-3 mm in diameter
> with a seed.  Also, I didn't say they were wholly without scent, just
that I
> found it incredibly underwhelming.  To smell anything I need to put my
nose
> right into a group of 5+ flowers, any further away than that and I notice
> nothing.  They are certainly not like clove currants which I can smell
from
> 10-15 feet away easily!  Right now passionflower incarnata in my front
yard
> can be smelled from 30-40 feet away if the air is still.  
>
>  
>
> I planted goumi last and this year and I'm hoping this relative of the
> Autumn Olive impresses me more so than AO has.
>
>  
>
> Scott Hills
>
> 6b Michigan
>
>  
>
>   _____  
>
> From: nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
> [mailto:nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of John S
> Sent: Sunday, September 07, 2008 1:40 PM
> To: North American Fruit Explorers
> Subject: Re: [NAFEX] autumn olive and peaches
>
>  
>
>
> Alan,  From personal experience, I do not chew the seeds and hence they do
> not appear to affect the taste of the fruit to me.  It appears to me that
> the quality about autumn olive consumption you object to lies in the skin
of
> the fruit.  As an experiment, I have in the past polished them to remove
the
> speckling from the outside of the skin, which helped somewhat, but peeling
> the fruit (insanity, I know) produces a much better experience.
>
> John
>
>   
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