I only processed a small batch here. The plan now is to find several really good local sources for autumn olive berries and do some real pickin’! Stay tuned for announcements of locations and times.
1. Put the fruit you have gathered (at least two cups) in a large pot with just enough water to keep the fruit from scorching as you cook it.
2. Bring the fruit and the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and lightly simmer, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes, until the fruit softens and the pulp begins to separate from the seed. Stir the pot occasionally and check to make sure there is enough water and the mixture is not sticking to the pot. You can add a touch of sweetener such as sugar, maple syrup, agave nectar or honey, if desired, though this is not necessary and often depends on the tartness of the berries themselves.
3. Pour the entire contents of the pot through a food mill, to separate the seeds and pulp. (Alternately, push pulp through a fine-mesh strainer with the back of a wooden spoon.)
4. If you have a dehydrator, pour the pulp into the liquid-containing trays and let it run overnight. Or use a glass baking dish or rimmed cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper. Spread the pulp to a 1/8- to 1/4-inch-thick layer and dry in the oven at the lowest temperature setting (140 to 170 degrees) for 8 to 12 hours. The fruit leather peels off when ready.
*Adapted from “Wild Plants I have Known and Eaten by Russ Cohen” (Essex County Greenbelt Association, 2004).