I enjoy the time I spend in the bush fishing and foraging for wild foods like False Solomon's Seal. False Solomon's Seal is a year round food source when you are living off the land, the rhizomes and roots can be dug up year round cooked and eaten. The young stems and leaves can be cooked and eaten in the spring like any spinach or kale dish. Last the berries can be brewed in a tea, fermented into a wine or made into a jelly in the fall. Many wild foods like the roots of False Solomon's Seal need to be leached before you can eat them.
Since my wife and oldest son are diabetic; I make sugar free jams and jellies every fall to suit their dietary needs.
This recipe can be used for a multitude of wild fruits and berries like Highbush Cranberry, American Yew, Chokecherry, and many others.
Step 1: Identifying False Solomon's Seal
False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum racemosum), Star Flowered False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum stellatum) like Solomon’s seal, are similar in appearance and edible. False Solomon's Seal grows in thickets, forests, and moist open areas in almost all of Canada and the U.S. but the Artic and the south east U.S.
Of the handful of varieties of False Solomon's Seal across North America, there are a number of things to remember in order to identify them properly. False Solomon's Seal is a perennial plant growing to about 20 inches tall (50 cm), with alternate, oblong, lanceolate leaves about 3 inches long (7 cm) and 1 ½ inches wide (3 cm). The flowers are white and star shaped, the rhizomes are white. The mature plants are easy to identify with the berry bunches at the end of the stem, but the young plants can be confused with False Hellebores or Corn Lilies, which are toxic so unless you are sure of your identification do not eat the young plants.
Step 2: Ingredients
This recipe makes 8 to 10, 120 ml jars.
2 cups False Solomon's Seal berries.
2 pouches Knox Gelatine.
4 cups water.
Some people find False Solomon's Seal sweet enough as is; I find it a bit tart so I will be adding sweetener, I suggest you taste the juice first so you can adjust the amount of sweetener to your liking.
Adding sweetener is your choice, you can go no sweetener added, or you can substitute honey, maple syrup, or corn syrup for Splenda, just match the recipe cup for cup. If you do not worry about sugar intake just use 1 cup sugar. You can go sugar free with 1 cup Splenda or some other artificial sweetener, or ½ cup sugar and ½ cup Splenda for low sugar.
Step 3: Directions
Gather 4 to 6 cups of False Solomon's Seal berry bunches, they are easy enough to collect just pinch the stem behind the bunch and break the bunch off the rest of the plant.
Wash the berries in a colander with cold water.
Remove the stems, unripe berries, and leaves, the unripe berries are hard as rocks and don't cook well.
I am always wary of unripe wild fruits and berries; berries like Bitter Sweet Nightshade or Yew are safe to eat when ripe, but if you eat the unripe berries of Bitter Sweet Nightshade or Yew they can make you sick. So as a general practice I only eat fully ripe wild berries.
After removing the stems, unripe berries, and leaves, you should have about 2 cups of berries.
Step 4: Cooking
Another general practice I use; is removing the seeds and pits from all fruits and berries but, the ones I know are harmless like strawberries. Even remove the seeds and pits from domestic fruit, a handful of apple seeds consumed in one sitting can kill you if you eat them.
To a pot add 2 cups of berries, 4 cups of water, place the pot on heat and bring the mix to a boil.
Let the berries in the water simmer on medium for 10 minutes.
After simmering for 10 minutes use a strainer or sieve to strain out the seeds and other solid parts.
Put ½ cup of juice to a side and the rest of the juice in a clean pot.
Put the pot of juice on the heat at medium stirring as you add the sweetener and let it simmer on low for 10 minutes while you prepare the gelatin.
Step 5: Preparing the Knox Gelatine
Each packet of Knox Gelatine will jell 2 cups of juice.
While the 4 cups of juice is simmering; add 2 pouches of gelatin to the ½ cup of juice you put to a side, stir the gelatin in and let the half cup of juice sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
Once the gelatin starts to jell melt it into the rest of the juice by pouring hot juice over the jell stirring the juice as you go.
Step 6: Filling & Processing the Jars
Clean and sterilize 8 to 10, 120 ml jars.
Fill the jars with jelly to within ¼ of an inch (5 mm) of the lip of the jar.
Place the seals on the jars and screw on the rings loosely.
Place the jars of jelly in a pot of water covering the lids by one inch (25 mm), put the pot on heat and bring the water to a boil for 15 minutes.
Step 7: Finishing the Jelly
Once the Jelly has processed for 10 to 15 minutes remove the pot from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
Remove the jars of jelly from the processing pot wipe off the outsides and tighten the lids.
Place the jars of jelly on a rack to cool.
If you haven't heard all the lids pop check the seal and place the jars with unpopped seals in the fridge.
Once the jars are cool label them and place the jars of jelly in a cool dark place for storage.