Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bottling summer

JenniferIt's that time of year again— sing hallelujah, the smultron are ripe! This year of course I have been keeping a careful eye on the smultron patch, noting the state of the flowers and early stage berries. Even so, it was my nose that let me know they were finally ready—their delicate sweet smell, wafting across the sidewalk on the early-evening breeze, mixed with the scent of warm pine trees in the sun... heavenly!

Last year, it seemed like they lasted for several weeks. This year has been quite hot, though, and so the berries are maturing quickly, and at a smaller size. Smultron seem far too small and fussy to contemplate making preserves out of, so this year I've decided instead to try to make some (very) small-batch aquavit out of them. The berries fit quite handily plastic tubes, convenient not only for carrying them back in your pocket, but they should also serve as a decent brewing vessel.

I have read that smultron are resistant to cultivation; other authorities seem to think that they are simply normal strawberries grown under wild conditions. In any event, I have never seen them for sale anywhere; one must pick them oneself. Linnaeus testified that eating smultron had cured his gout, and legend has it that he therefore ate two silver bowls of them per day, later in life; the bowl is carefully preserved in his museum, and has a volume of about a half liter. (For comparison, the tubes in the picture above are 15ml.) On the other hand, he also lobbied against the consumption of strong spirits. What he would make of my experiment?

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