I was inspired after my foraging class with Green Deane last weekend to go back into the woods and try to put some of what I learned to practical use.
One of the plants that I was particularly interested in was the beautyberry, Callicarpa Americana. According to Deane, and other sources on the Internet, the berries make an excellent Jelly.
In our foraging class, we learned that if you rub the leaves on your skin, it will keep mosquitos away. I wanted to see if this were true, so I purposely didn’t wear any insect repellant. True to Deane’s word, I spent about an hour and a half outdoors in Florida, and not one insect bite!
Unlike other berries I’ve foraged for, where you eat more than you put in your bucket, the temptation wasn’t there with these berries. The truth is that as beautiful as they are, they just don’t have much flavor.
Harvesting them is a bit tedious, however, I did find a faster way to pick them after some experimentation. I cupped my hand under the cluster on the branch with my index finger and middle finger on either side of the branch. I gently pulled at the cluster of berries toward the end of the branch, and they easily fell into my hand. It took me a little more than an hour to gather the 6 cups needed for my recipe.
I was really pleased with the results. The inner chef in me wanted to do something more gourmet like a beautyberry-ginger jelly, but when I was doing research on the recipe, everyone talked about how delicious the jam was, so I figured I wanted to see what the flavor of the berry was on its own. The flavor is hard to describe. To me, it has a very floral taste in the beginning, and then an almost eucalyptus like finish. The color is a beautiful vibrant red. My friends thought it tasted a bit like cranberry.
I created this recipe based on a number of recipes that I found on the Internet, but found the most guidance watching Green Deane’s video.
We are lucky in Florida as this plant has fruit both in the Spring and the Fall. After making this once, I can see that I’ll be making it again. It would make an excellent Christmas present because you can’t go anywhere and “buy” this flavor.