Monday, September 7, 2009

In Season: Salal

Salal is one of most common shrubs on the west coast. You may recognize the glossy green leaves from floral arrangements — it is harvested and sold to florists. Salal grows thick and tall. It was the bane of anyone shipwrecked on the coast. Even if you survived the wreck — so what — you were confronted with walls of the stuff. You do not want to get lost in this stuff. The berries were an important food for native people and the berries were dried into cakes and, of course, eaten fresh. I eat them fresh all the time. They're a bit mealy, but the taste is good. 

I've had a recipe for salal jelly tucked into my plant book for about 10 years or so and this morning I finally decided to do something about it. So I set off in the rain to gather an ice cream bucket full of berries. It is most unsatisfying to try to pick the berries one at a time if you are hoping for that plink, plank, plunk sound (a la Blueberries for Sal) in your bucket. The berries kind of mush a bit, so I resorted to just sliding my hand along the berries and smooshing them off the branch. A few leaves and twigs didn't matter as I was making jelly. From the licks on the spoon once I was done I can report that the jelly tastes deliciousl. I'm not sure if I got the pectin right though — a few jars seem too runny while others look like concrete. Shall report back.

An added bonus -- the cheesecloth I use for jelly is a beautiful shade of purple! Would make a wonderful dye if want a lovely natural dye. 

No comments:

Post a Comment