Last week I wrote a detailed post about the wonderful beautyberry shrub. In that post, I taught you how to care for your shrub. This week let’s harvest it and make some beautyberry recipes you may not have tried yet.
All of these beautyberry recipes are my own adaptions from various recipes I found while searching the internet over the last few years. I have an abundance of American beautyberry bushes and needed something to make with all those delicious berries.
Harvesting Your Beautyberries
Harvesting your beautyberries can take some time. Especially if you have the number of bushes that I do. Remember that the birds, especially chickens, love those purple berries. Therefore it is best to pick berries as they become ripe instead of waiting for the entire branch to be ready.
When removing berries you have 2 options. The first option is to pick each berry while holding a basket or bowl under the branch you are harvesting. This is fine for one or two shrubs. Just simply pluck the berries a cluster at a time.
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The second, which is much faster, is to bend the entire branch down over a bowl or basket and simply strip leaves and all from the first bunch towards the end of each branch, stopping as you reach the unripe berries. You will collect leaves this way but that’s okay. I have a use for them too.
I prefer the second method because I can harvest many berries quickly. As you will see in the next section, cleaning and sorting after picking is the tedious part and takes the longest.
Cleaning and Sorting Your Beautyberries
Now I am certain someone has a more efficient way of doing this next step. However, I am OCD when it comes to the next step so for me, this is the dreaded part that takes the longest.
I set my basket on the sink, and pull out all of the leaves first and place them in a bag or another bowl. I will do something with these later on.
Then I dump the rest of the berries into a strainer and rinse them in cool water to help remove any insects and creepy crawlies. I let the water drain out as much as possible.
Next, I lay out an old bath towel on my table. I set my strainer of berries on the towel alongside two other bowls. One bowl is for the berries I am keeping and the other is for what I will throw away or feed to the pigs.
Now is the time-consuming part. I throw a handful on the towel. I put the good berries in one bowl and any unripe berries, seeds, dirt, or whatever else I find in the other bowl. A lot of berries means a lot of time.
Saving Your Clean Berries
Usually, by the time I get my harvested berries all clean and sorted, the last thing I want to do is start cooking and canning with them. That’s okay because storing them is no problem at all.
If you will be using them the following day, you can simply put the clean bowl of berries in the fridge overnight. They won’t look any different in the morning. I leave mine open but you can cover them if you want.
If you won’t be using them within a day, you can freeze them. Just place them in a freezer bag and remove the air from the bag as much as possible; seal the bag, and place them in your freezer.
Please know that freezing the beautyberries will change their color from the bright purple they were to a faded almost grayish-purple color. It will still taste the same later, but the color won’t be there.
Because I collect so many berries, I freeze every batch throughout the two weeks it takes me to collect all of the bushes. This way I can thaw them all at one time and start preserving and creating my beautyberry recipes.
I don’t know how long they stay good in the freezer beyond two weeks because I have never saved them any longer than that.
The Beautyberry Recipes
As I said above, the beautyberry recipes here are my own adaptions. You may want to lessen the sugar or other contents to your taste. These recipes are all yummy once you decide the amounts of sugar and so forth that fit your family’s tastes.
This is a great way to have a simple syrup of sorts to make other beautyberry recipes. This can be used to make a hot drink, like tea, or a cold iced drink instead. It is also a good base for other recipes below.
- 6 Cups Water
- 6 Cups Beautyberries, cleaned and rinsed
Combine 6 cups of beautyberries and 6 cups of water in a saucepot. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring often.
Remove from heat.
Strain well into a cheesecloth-filled strainer. Repeat if necessary.
At this point, you can pour your concentrate into jars and place them in the fridge for up to 4 weeks. If you want to freeze it for longer-term storage you can fill up ice cube trays and store the cubes once frozen in plastic bags.
Hot Or Cold Beautyberry Tea
Combine equal amounts of concentrate and either hot or cold water. Add sugar to sweeten. Enjoy!
This tea would make a great offering for an Afternoon Tea as explained by Julie at The Farm Wife.
- 1 Cup Beautyberry concentrate
- 1-1/2 teaspoon Knox gelatin
- 1/4 Cup Sugar
Mix beautyberry concentrate and sugar into a saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
Add gelatin and mix until completely dissolved. Taste for sweetness.
Pour mixture into jello molds and place in the fridge for 2 hours.
- 1-1/2 Cups beautyberry concentrate
- 2-1/4 Cups sugar (Adjust to your taste)
Bring 3 cups of beautyberry concentrate to a full boil.
Add sugar and continue to boil it down until the sugar is dissolved.
Continue boiling until the mixture reaches the thickness you want. (The heavier the syrup, the thicker the sauce)
Refrigerate the syrup and use promptly or can the sauce for long-term storage.
Note: You can replace the sugar with 1-3/4 to 2 cups of honey if you so desire. Just remember the taste will change. I have tried both ways and prefer the sugar instead. Experiment to see which way you like better.
Also a word of caution…If you boil the syrup too long it will harden when cooled. I usually put my jar of syrup in hot water for a bit to make it syrup again when this happens.
- 3 Cups Beautyberry concentrate (made with no sugar)
- 1 Envelope Sure-Jell
- 4-1/2 Cups Sugar
Bring 3 cups of beautyberry concentrate to a boil.
Add Sure-Jell and sugar and return to a boil for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and let stand until foam forms.
Skim off foam and pour into sterilized jars and seal.
Water Bath Can for 10 minutes.
What About Those Beautyberry Leaves?
Beautyberry leaves are a great source for making DIY pest control products among other things. Don’t throw away those leaves. Instead, try the recipes below.
Outdoor Pest Spray
- 2 Cups beautyberry leaves, crushed
- 8 Ounces Rubbing Alcohol
- 4 Drops of body wash or liquid soap (optional)
- Pint Mason jar
- Spray Bottle or roll-on bottle
Add your crushed leaves to the rubbing alcohol in a mason jar.
Put the lid on the jar and let it stand for two days on a windowsill. Swirl or shake your jar about twice a day.
After two days, strain the mixture through a strainer with a coffee filter in the center into a spray bottle.
Add your body wash. (optional)
Spray on your arms and legs to deter bugs and pests.
This recipe can be split in half and added to a small roll-on bottle for convenience. It is safe for animals and children too.
Vodka Based Pest Control
- Beautyberry leaves (enough to fill a jar of your choice)
- Inexpensive bottle of Vodka
- Coconut oil
Crush the beautyberry leaves in your hands and stuff them into a jar. Pack the jar to the top and tightly.
Pour vodka over the leaves into the jar until about halfway filled.
Place a lid on the jar, shake well.
Allow the jar to sit for 24 hours.
Pour the mixture into a food processor and add coconut oil at a rate of 5 times the amount of vodka and leaf mixture.
Blend for about 5 minutes. Strain through a mesh container. Use as a salve for repelling pests.
Beautyberry leaves can be crushed in your hand and rubbed directly on the skin as well. I have done this with my grandchildren here in Florida when the mosquitoes were treating them as the main course this summer. They showed no irritation.
Believe it or not, the leaves of the beautyberry will deter ticks, mosquitos, fire ants, and no-see-ums.
I hope you enjoyed the recipes I have shared here. If you grow the beautyberry shrub in your yard, make sure to try these recipes and let me know how they turn out!