BLACKBERRY BONANZA Fruit Catsup Master Recipe; makes about 2½ pints (40 oz)

What a peak crazy moment in the blackberry patch.  The tall stout canes bite back, pull hair, scratch skin, and prick fingers. Blackberry battle wounds; all worth it. And now what to do w/ all this blackberry abundance…..perhaps some blackberry catsup! The following recipe is an excerpt from our book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi and illustrated by Wendy Hollender Book Link: http://bit.ly/1Auh44Q

Usually made with tomatoes, delicious catsup also can be made from wild berries and other fruits. You'll find that inventing unique catsups by combining various fruits, herbs, and spices can be quite gratifying. Use the cooking instructions, amounts, and specific ingredients given in this recipe as starting points from which to experiment. If you wish, add probiotics to the catsup, using the directions for lacto-fermenting provided below. To create the most flavorful catsup, grind the spices right before using them. Placed in attractive jars with fun, homemade labels, Fruit Catsups make great gifts; we love to give them to our friends and family during the holiday seasons.

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup cold-pressed olive oil

3 large onions, finely chopped (about 4 cups and weighing about 1½ lbs.)

 

Combine the following finely ground spices:

1/3 teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon clove

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon cumin

2 teaspoons ginger

2 tablespoons paprika

 

3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

2–3 tablespoons sea salt, according to taste

 

3 lbs (about 8–10 cups) fruit of choice, cut into 1-inch pieces, pits or seeds removed; or, if using berries, leave whole

 

1½ cups Sucanat or maple sugar

1½ cups organic apple cider vinegar

Method:

In a 3-quart, heavy gauge bottom, nonreactive deep pan or shallow pot — such as one made from stainless steel, ceramic, or enamel — sauté onions in olive oil, on a medium-low flame, until tender and slightly colored.

  1. Add the spices, garlic, and salt, stirring them in well, and continue cooking and stirring for 2 more minutes.

  2. Add fruit to the pot, mix well, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.

  3. Mix in the vinegar and Sucanat or maple sugar and bring to a gentle simmer. (If lacto-fermenting, omit the vinegar and replace it with 1½ cups of water; see directions below.)

  4. Cook uncovered, frequently stirring the catsup until thickened, about 50–60 minutes. (The catsup will thicken more quickly if cooked in a wider rather than deeper cooking vessel, which facilitates evaporation.)

  5. Pour hot catsup into glass jars, cap with tight-fitting lids, and label. Or, for a smoother consistency, purée the catsup before bottling. To produce the most refined texture, you can strain the puréed catsup through a sieve.

  6. Let cool, then store in refrigerator where it will keep for several months. The catsup tastes delicious right away, but ages well in storage.

Note: During the entire cooking process, but especially toward the end, it is important to stir the catsup frequently with a wooden spoon, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot so the catsup doesn’t stick or burn.


Wild Berry Variations: The following wild (or cultivated) berries make excellent catsup. Use 3 lbs (about 8­–10 cups) of whole berries per batch and proceed with the Catsup Master Recipe as instructed. Keep in mind that these berries contain many small seeds, so you may want to strain the catsup before bottling. Although not technically a berry, the grape can be treated like one here, but make sure to strain out its rather large seeds.

 

  • Blueberries produce delicious, blue-black catsup.

  • Gooseberries bring a delectable tartness to the catsup.

  • Red currants offer another zingy choice.

  • Black currants produce dark purple catsup; European ones give a musky-piney after-note and also benefit from 2 extra tablespoons sweetener.

  • Elderberries make dazzling, deep, magenta catsup.

  • Grapes produce a rich, tangy option.

 

Cultivated Fruit Variations: The following cultivated fruits make tasty catsup. Use 3 lbs (about 8–10 cups) that have been cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces, with pits, cores, and seeds removed; then proceed with the catsup master recipe as instructed.

 

  • Peaches

  • Apples

  • Pears

  • Plum

 

Lacto-Fermented Fruit Catsup

To lacto-ferment fruit catsup (which increases probiotic activity), follow the above recipe but omit the vinegar and replace it with 1½ cups of water. When the catsup is very thick, allow it to cool to body temperature. Then measure the catsup and, for each cup of catsup, stir in 1 tablespoon of whey (p.   ) and 1¼ teaspoon of lemon juice — this usually means about 5 tablespoons of whey and 2 tablespoons lemon juice per batch. Pour catsup into glass jars, making sure to leave an inch of space from the top. Cover with tight-fitting lids and label with product name and date of production. Place jarred catsup in a bowl and leave out at room temperature (ideally between 64–70ºF) for 4–5 days, at which point it is ready to serve. Or store in the refrigerator or root cellar where it will continue to slowly ferment and stay preserved for a couple of months.

To help with id, harvest and use here is the blackberry plant map from our book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi, illustrated by Wendy Hollender. Book Link:    http://bit.ly/1Auh44Q

To help with id, harvest and use here is the blackberry plant map from our book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi, illustrated by Wendy Hollender. Book Link: http://bit.ly/1Auh44Q