Visit the Home,
            Kitchen and Lawn
            Christmas Corner

Autumn Olive Juice - Traditional Juicing Method

gallon of autumn olive juice gallon of autumn olive juice (photo by jhy)

You will need:
  • Autumn Olive berries- any amount, probably at least a quart to make the work worthwhile
  • sugar or sugar substitute to taste

gallon of autumn olive berries gallon of autumn olive berries (photo by jhy)
Wash the berries (see Harvesting Autumn Olive), removing woody twigs, leaves, and other unwanted items. From this gallon of berries I removed three Asian Lady Bugs, a Cutworm, and a Stinkbug. None of those would have improved the flavor of the juice. However, you don't need to bother removing the small gray stems from each berry.

Place your berries in a large kettle with about an equal amount of water. This doesn't have to be measured very accurately, but you want to leave plenty of space above the level of water in your kettle. Bring the berries to a boil.

boiling autumn olive berries boiling autumn olive berries (photo by jhy)
My kettle is too full! As the berries began to cook, they float, and this boiled over before I could catch it.

Simmer for about 30 minutes. Skim off any foam with a metal spoon. Let this cool until it's a temperature you can handle, but the warmer the better.

squeezing autumn olive juice autumn olive pulp in a jelly bag (photo by jhy)
Squeeze through a jelly bag until the pulp is quite dry.

As you can see, the resulting juice is a milky pink. This looks funny, but doesn't taste bad. I added a little bit of sugar, but it didn't need much. This can be added strictly to your own taste. If you really want a red color, you'll need to add food coloring.

I tried this method instead of the Cold Pack Autumn Olive Juice method because I was hopeful of getting a more tart flavor. The berries are pleasantly tart, but the cold pack juice method yields a juice that is very much like fruit punch. I was disappointed that this method does the same thing. The tartness must be all in the skins, and is not released even with the cooking the way it is with grapes.

Store in the refrigerator for quick use, or process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, for longer storage. See

Purslane- Tart, Healthy Green

common purslane, hogweed common purslane (photo by jhy)

Common purslane, Portulaca oleracea, is grown as a vegetable in many cultures, but in the United States it is usually considered a weed. What a weed! You can easily get several servings of vegetables from one healthy plant, for free! The plant is an annual.

Identification is relatively easy. Look for this plant, also known as hogweed, in disturbed soils. It grows in a flat rosette, radiating in a slightly off-center manner. The stems are reddish and the entire plant has a somewhat succulent appearance. You can gather it throughout the summer, up through the time it has tight buds. The earlier pickings will be more tart. When the buds form, the flavor becomes milder.

It can be eaten raw, or cooked in several ways. Today, I boiled the leaves and stems and ate them as a green.

Pull up the entire plant, or cut the stems at the base. Wash thoroughly and pull off wilted or sunburned leaves. Tight buds are fine to eat, and won't change the flavor.

common purslane, hogweed yield from three purslane plants (photo by jhy)

I like to use scissors, because it's a very easy way to cut the plant into pieces of similar size. I cut the largest stems into sections 1 to 1.5 inches long and throw them into boiling water first. Then I continue with the smaller stems and leaves. Boil until cooked to taste. I prefer them slightly crunchy, 2-5 minutes.

Rinse and serve immediately with your preferred condiment (oil, salt, etc), or eat plain.

Early plants will have a tart, citrus taste. They remind me of beet stems.

Purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable, more than some fish. It is also high in vitamins A,C and E, and magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron. Anti-oxidant properties come from betacyanins and betaxanthins present in the plant.

It is high in oxalate, which can contribute to kidney stone formation, but cooking reduces that risk, and many vegetables we eat regularly contain oxalates. As with any food, it makes sense to vary the menu.