The communist mock olive

After reading about this excellent olive harvest at Cal Tech over on ramshackle solid I thought to my self, well my neighborhood is lousy with Russian Olive trees, I wonder if you can eat the little fruits on these trees?

Turns out you can, thanks Wikipedia! They are not really olives, but they are loaded with lycopene, which is the same stuff in tomatoes that repels werewolves allegedly helps prevent prostate cancer. They were rumored to be tasty after the first frost, according to the internets. Huge bonus as we just had our first frost in the last month or two.

Russian olives are a pesky invasive tree that is planted everywhere around Los Alamos as shade/windbreak, but unlike Chinese Elms which have no known use except for reproducing like mad and being impossible to eradicate, the Russian Olive is kind of edible.

I hopped the fence into my snowbird neighbors yard and picked a bunch of tiny mock olives from the tree. I put a few in my mouth, they were kind of delicious. They were sort of tannin tasting, but had a bit of sweet to them, not too dissimilar to fresh dates that have the skin you should peel, but are too lazy to do so...
They are probably much lower on the desirability scale than any of the bountiful crab apple trees in the neighborhood, but they are edible right off the tree, which makes them more desirable than, say, juniper berries...

Apparently there are much more delicious mock olives from the similarly invasive relative Autumn Olive tree which grows in the east. But these are not terrible, I may raid the neighbors yard some more for some low reward snacking. I am not sure if I can actually get enough flesh off these little pitted fruits to do anything with them, but they are not unpleasant. In fact, I think the more shrively ones are almost tasty! The firm ones are a bit bitter.

So there you have it, the Russian Olive:
Not really olives, somewhat tasty, mostly pits.


ramshackle solid said...

Hey, Thanks for the link. Great post by the way, foraged food is always rewarding even if it doesn't quite compare to the garden varieties.

Huge congratulations on baby Aida too. She's adorable. We'll blame our slow reaction time to the fact that we are parents too.


Tarik Saleh said...

No problem, I really enjoy your blog. Thanks for the congrats as well, we are already settling into parental time slippage...