The autumn olive is a handsome shrub with silvery, pointed leaves and, at this time of year, scads of gorgeous, plump, red berries. While the autumn olive is found in many U.S. states, there are two things that most people don't know about it. First, it's highly invasive, so much so that in Massachusetts it is illegal to plant or even transport. Second, the berries are delicious.
I can't go into too much detail as I'm in the process of writing a full article on the subject, but I did want to share some info as the end of the autumn olive season approaches. If you've got a bush in your neighborhood, strip it of its fruits before the birds get to them and poop the seeds all over tarnation. Eat them raw, cook into jam or do what you will. Then, kill the tree.
We made a tart with a puree of strained pulp from the fruits, using Mark Bittman's crust. The result was fantastic, the flavor familiar yet exotic and difficult to place. The fruits remind me of currants for their size and shape, and their taste has been compared to green grapes.
We also reduced some excess water that the berries had simmered in and drank it warm. While the tart was good, this blew our minds. It was something like a sour cherry cider, yet unlike anything I've ever had. It tasted like Fall, and it tasted wild.
Like I said, hopefully I'll have more on this controversial food before its season ends.