Part of the fun of being able to identify plants as you walk by them in the forest is knowing which ones might poison you and which ones are mighty tasty prepared in a mixed drink over ice or fermented and bottled.
Last year the ladies got really interested in squishing fruit. They combed the neighborhood and delivered letters to our especially fruity neighbors inviting them to some free labor. In exchange for cleaning up around their fruit trees, we’d bring home a few large buckets of apples, pears, persimmons and muscadines. Over the course of several weeks during harvest season we accumulated many “carboys” (large glass containers) full of squeezings. They’re naturally doing their thing and now we have lots of bottles to fill. Pretty tasty pear wine, honey wine, cyser, mead, and more, I’m sure. I’m trying to stay at arm’s length. (Yes, with a glass in hand, though.)
Identifying the plants while you’re walking next to them is pretty impressive, but what really wowed me was driving around, even on the highway, hearing, “Pear! Apple! Persimmon!” Red2 identified a pear tree hiding in front of a grocery store. She’s 9, kiddos.
Their mom and I did share. It wasn’t all booze. We had persimmon cake, apple and pear butter, and pear preserves using as recipe from the tree owner who feels like she’s all done making preserves herself. She was very happy to have some help.
The last thought here is about where this all leads. The natural ingredients that used to be found in things like Maraschino cherries and grenadine. Amy Stewart’s book, The Drunken Botanist, is good read full of stories about what’s really supposed to be in the bottles. Read the labels, folks. Red1 wants a field trip to a liquor store to find real grenadine made with pomegranates, not colored up corn syrups. I think she’ll have to wait a bit for that. Do you think the shop keepers will let us in to read the labels?