I’m always looking for new foods to forage, so I was delighted last week when a reader emailed me about making beautyberry jelly.
Ron Stried has two beautyberry bushes in his yard, and when the magenta-purple berries ripen in the late summer and early fall, he harvests them to make jelly. These berries have always caught my eye on local hiking trails, but I didn’t know they were edible until I did some research after receiving his note.
It turns out that the American beautyberry — Callicarpa americana — is a native plant whose berries, though too mealy and astringent to enjoy raw, are perfect for simmering into a jelly.
Stried, who likes to eat the jelly on toast and biscuits, shared his technique:
Pick about 6 cups of berries and strip them from the stems. Wash the berries to remove any leaves and stems. Bring 8 cups of water to a boil and add the berries. Simmer for 20 minutes. Pour through strainer to get the "tea."
Set aside 3 cups of beautyberry tea in a large saucepot. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup of the tea with one package of Sure Jell, a dry pectin. Pour the mixture back into tea and add 4 cups of sugar. Add 1 pat of butter to reduce foam. Bring to a rolling boil until the jelly sticks to spoon, about 10 minutes. Fill clean small jars and secure the lid. Let sit overnight.
If you have a recipe you love to make, especially during the fall season, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m looking for October and November submissions to our #Austin360Cooks project, which is where readers share tips, tricks and food ideas with other readers through Instagram and I feature some of the highlights in the Wednesday food section.