It has recently come to my attention that Oregon grapes are edible.
Oregon grape bushes are found everywhere around here and are almost always loaded with fruit in July. All of the foraging guides said that the fruit is slightly bitter and not very good straight off the bush, but that they taste good in jams and jelly’s with a little added sugar. They also said the fruit becomes sweeter after the first frost. This year was so dry I knew that the berries wouldn’t last that long so I figured back in July that I would just go ahead and make some berry syrup with them to see how they tasted. In a syrup they taste pretty good with sugar. Without they are sort of bland.
Oregon Grape Syrup
Most of the time I make berry syrups without sugar. They don’t store as long, but I keep them in the fridge and use them within a month of making them so that’s okay.
I only picked a cup of berries and put about half a cup of water over them in a small pot. Then I proceeded to cook them over medium low heat, mashing them with a wooden paddle until all of the berries were broken open and the juice was hot and bubbly. Usually berries smell good on the stove but these ones were quite intense, an acquired taste?
I then poured the juice through my jam strainer. Its a very useful little gadget but any sieve would work.
If you wanted to add sugar to your syrup, this would be the time. Take the strained juice put it back in the pot and add an equal amount of sugar to it (So if you have a cup of liquid you would add a cup of sugar.) Then you would boil it until the sugar dissolved completely.
Once the juice was strained from the berry mash, I poured it into a jar, labeled it and let it cool before refrigerating. I did try adding a little sugar to a taste of this syrup and the flavor was quite good. Still I left out the sugar and I simply added it to my morning lemonade for extra kick. It was quite nice.