Autumn olives are an invasive species commonly found on farms or roadsides. Birds love the gorgeous, fall berries, especially cedar wax wings.
Some people love the berries, some find them a bit tart. They are significantly less tart and sweet after the first frost of the fall, but they also will quickly fall to the ground after that.
Leaves: Lanceolate, white-spotted leaves that are actually scales.
Berries: Yellow when unripe, a pale red when ripe. Up close, you can see they have white spots.
Flowers: Sweet smelling, pale yellow, tiny arranged in clusters of one to eight. Bloom from April to June.
Habitat: Fields, open woodlands, and disturbed areas. Does well in a variety of soil types and moisture levels.
Region: Maine to Virginia and west to Wisconsin.
Autumn Olive Meringe Pie
This is one of my all time favorite foraging recipes. It takes 3 hours to chill, so be sure to start it early and even better, make it the day before hosting a large gathering.
For this, there is no reason to wait until after the first frost makes the autumn olives sweeter because your the sourness of the berries really goes well with the fluffy, sweet meringue. It isn’t a super hard pie to make once you’ve done if a couple of times, but it looks quite impressive and delicious on a plate.
Autumn Olive Meringue Pie
Autumn Olive Filling
- Homemade Pie Crust chilled for 2 hours
- 5 Large Egg Yolks
- 1 1/3 Cups Water
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 1/3 Cup Cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/2 Cup Pureed Autumn Olive
- 1 Tbsp Lemon Zest
- 2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter softened to room temperature
- 5 Large Egg Whites
- 1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar
- 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/8 tsp Salt
- Wash and push the autumn olives through a food mill to remove the seeds. Save the pulp. You can freeze it if you have more than you need for this recipe or use it for jam.
- Chill the pie crust in the fridge for two hours before baking.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Bake your fork-pricked pie crust partially for about 15 minutes with parchment paper and dried beans lining the bottom.
- Lower temperature to 350 degrees Farenheit.
- Make the filling. First add the egg yolks into a bowl and whisk them. Set aside. Whisk the water, granulated sugar, cornstarch, salt, autumn olive pulp, and lemon zest together in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Once it has thickened and bubbled, whisk and reduce temperature to low. Slowly to avoid causing thick egg pieces, add the warm mixture to the egg yolks. Then slowly add the egg yolks to the saucepan. Turn the heat back up to medium. Cook until the sauce is thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter.
- Pour the filling into the partially baked crust. You can set it in a warming drawer or quickly make the meringue. Don't let it cool too much though.
- For the meringue, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar for about four minutes until soft peaks form.
- Add the sugar, salt, and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
- Spread the meringue carefully on top of the autumn olive filling. Spread to the crusts.
- Bake for about 25 minutes until the meringue is tinged with light brown. Be careful not to overcook!
- Chill at room temperature for one hour then another few hours in the fridge before eating.
I’m wondering if there is any recommendations on how to make this ahead. Do you think I could prep the berries and crust ahead of time and finish assembling later?
Yes, that is be the best option. You also can make it ahead and store it in the fridge inside a cake container or use toothpicks to hold up aluminum foil or another type of wrap so it doesn’t mess up the meringue.
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