Friday, June 13, 2008

I finally made "lemonade" today!

After having lived in the Prescott area for over 25 years, it seemed like it was about time. Those bright red berries on my several squawbushes have been beckoning me for several days; today, as I did a daily climb up my hill, I picked about two small handfuls, brought them into the kitchen and proceeded.

Step one: I put the berries in a glass and added water, then stirred. After a couple of minutes, I tasted one of the berries and, finding it flavorless, figured that the all the sour had been washed off into the water.

Time to drain. Oops! Not being a tea drinker, I have no small strainers so I had to make do with the big sieve I use for pasta.

This should give you an idea of the size of the berries -- and the amount I used for one glass of "lemonade".

Next, sugar to taste. Guess what: it tastes pretty much like the real thing. All that lore is correct, although I suspect Robert Laurence, who wrote about the subject, never tried it -- he said one should crush the berries. If one did that, I'm sure that the woody flavor would be released to ruin the "lemonade". BTW, I probably collected enough of the flavor principle on my fingers while gathering berries to have made a second glass of "lemonade"; be warned!


meggie said...

I think you are quite brave to try that! I would be a bit wary.

TomboCheck said...

You rock Granny J!!
That is awesome that you made the lemonade. Glad it worked out and even tasted like the real thing. :)

Anonymous said...

Interesting post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the lesson!

~Anon in AV.

Granny J said...

Meggie -- there's enough lore out there that I had no fear of trying it out, though I don't believe I've ever met anybody who tried it!

tombo -- well, one other name for the plant is lemonade bush, after all.

steve -- the experience was interesting.

anon av -- apparently there are a couple of other sumacs in Calif. that can also be used to make "a refreshing drink...", though apparently the plant from our high desert is the best for the purpose.

pb said...

We also have sumacs that can be made into drinks, but around here are wary of anything that grows naturally.

Ironic, isn't it?

Granny J said...

pb -- though we have numerous environmental activists here, I learned the old fashioned use of the squaw bush from one of the old-timers that lived across the street from our place down in Wilhoit. However, I understand what you are talking about -- folks who are fearful of the outdoors and nature. Oh, are they missing out on so much!

Lucy said...

Amazing! I made elderflower lemonade syrup today, but it was a lot more fuss then that, and I had to buy citric acid.

Liked the old photos too; such things are often bittersweet.

Granny J said...

lucy -- I found further info on the squawbush berries, which does explain why the "lemonade" effect. Apparently they contain malic, citric and tartaric acids; the reason one's fingers pick up all that flavor is that it is concentrated on the little fine hairs. Plenty of Vitamin C, BTW.

Avus said...

That reminds me - it will soon be time for me to gather sloe berries for sloe gin. They bloom in late August and I only have one bottle of last year's left (it is very potent hooch with a fruity flavour - a liqueur glass-full is enough at one time!)

Granny J said...

Avus -- I've longed wondered just exactly what sloe gin was. Thanks to you, now I know! Sounds yummy, if a bit dangerous.

Lori Witzel said...

Reminds me of the fabulous class I took here:

And the time I went to the Texas Folklife Festival and wandered near a booth showcasing mesquite wine.

I was served a ladle-full in a paper cup by a jolly older Indian man, just as two nicely-dressed men stopped over.

One of the Polo-clad gents said:
"Hey, there are tiny flies in the wine!" (There were a few fruit flies that must have fallen in after the fumes knocked 'em out.)

I grinned and replied, "They're not so bad -- you can just sieve them out with your teeth."

The two men left wearing horrified expressions, while the man ladling out the wine just about fell over laughing.

Granny J said...

lori -- those are the kinds of people who cut down wildflowers by the roadside or at an old cemetery because "it looks neglected." The specks in my "lemonade" were, in this case, bits of plant material that made it quite nicely through the strainer. It wasn't sweet enough to have attracted fruit flies.

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