I do not live in London anymore, decided to move to the countryside and almost a year on I have no regrets. I have continued to forage as a hobby and this year wanted to explore making capers with unripened elderberries.
The Elder can be found all over London, and grows in some of the most inhospitable places, so even if you live in the most urban parts of London you will find Elder nearby.
Now is the perfect time to pick unripened elderberries. They are at their largest and green prior to turning red.
I have followed this recipe http://methowvalleyherbs.blogspot.co.uk/2008/08/elderberry-capers.html and finished making a jar this evening.
I have picked more berries and will follow the process again, but this time take photos. I will also provide my own feedback on whether they make a good substitute for capers one buys from the supermarket.
I’ve gone through the recipe twice now, and the good news is that this really does work. I would actually go so far to say it is better than the bought version as the flavours are more subtle and fruity.
Below are a few photos I took whilst making them.
These are the Elderberries on their stem. They are green and firm to the touch, not like they are when they turn red and soft.
This is a slightly better picture where you can see the volume of capers per stem. I used a fork to strip them from the stem, but also found using my hands as easy. Some people freeze them and find they come off the stem more easily.
I have now stripped the elderberries from their main stem. I did after a while find completely stripping them tedious and after trying the first batch, having a bit of stem with the caper didn’t matter. I suppose it is similar with fish some don’t mind the small bones and others do.
The picture shows the elderberry capers in a salt water solution as per the recipe enclosed above. I put a muslin on the top with an elastic band and left for a few days. If you leave it longer you’ll find they start to ferment and mold begins to grow on the surface.
Here is the finished article. After taking the elderberries out of the salt water solution I put them into a sterile jar. I boiled up some homemade apple cider vinegar with sugar and poured it over the top. I’ve used them on a potato salad so far with great success, and they haven’t gone off.
I don’t think I’ll be buying commercial capers every again. This is such an easy recipe to do with a fruit that is abundant in London, so I don’t think there are any excuses not to make this yourself.