After three weeks packed in 5% salt, then six weeks in raw apple vinegar, the raw elderberries have gone from green, shiny, and poisonous to soft, dark, and edible.
They taste rich and full from the fermentation, and though a little soapy have retained much of their elder fragrance.
Also towards the end of the summer we obtained some sea buckthorn (from the table arrangements for the Gastrophysics Symposium) – after lacto-fermenting them in the same style, we passed them through a tamis and made a leather, which we served with pheasant leg rillettes on a toasted mini english muffin as one of five tastes for our workshop at a conference on Danish game in November.
The wood is also highly fragrant, so we got a tincture going with the wood to use for bitters.
The endless possibilities of raw materials.
The elderberries and their transformation inspired me to make a dish for our Julefrokost at the Lab. The Julefrokost is a Danish tradition in the weeks leading up to Christmas, long parties that begin in the afternoon and often go into the night. Every company, college, and organisation has one. Ours was born of necessity – to clear the fridges and freezer of odds and ends and old experiments before closing down for the holiday – but also became a chance to spend our last day together, cooking, creating, and enjoying each other’s company.
It was an ode to the salt-cure: brined wild apples with elderberry capers and tarragon oil.
My friend Chris took this photo and all the rest. He’s a talented photographer and agreed to come hang out while we cooked and photograph the process and the meal. I think he made some incredible pictures.
The satisfaction of the long process – the labour is very light; the main ingredient is time.