The texture of Russian olive fruit is a little dry and mealy, so not everyone enjoys eating the fruit plain. But if you'd like to experiment with the flavor, try juicing the fruit, then making a sweet, mild jelly. Russian olives aren't juicy, so you'll need to add a little more water than usual. Instead of just barely covering the fruit with water, you'll want to float the Russian olives in just enough water to let them bob around.
Be sure to use only fully ripe fruit; underripe Russian olives are highly astringent. I used commercial pectin in this recipe because I'm not sure how much natural pectin Russian olives have. The jelly has a lovely, pinkish-orange color and a mild, apple-like flavor.
- 1 cup Russian olive juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons powdered pectin
- Rinse the fruit and place it in a single layer in a jelly pan or saucepan. Add just enough water to float the fruit and simmer over medium-low heat.
- Cook until the fruit is soft, mash it, and pour into a jelly bag to strain. Let it drip, without squeezing, then measure your fruit juice.
- Pour the juice back into your pan and for each cup of fruit juice, add 3/4 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Bring the juice to a boil that can't be stirred down, then whisk in the pectin.
- Bring the juice back to a boil that can't be stirred down and boil for a full minute, stirring the whole time.
- Remove from the heat and pour the jelly into sterilized jars, cover, and process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.
The jelly may take up to 24 hours to set. While the recipe is scalable, don't work with more than six cups of juice at once. The time it takes to bring a larger quantity of jelly to the boiling point is often long enough to break the pectin bonds and prevent jelling.
Russian olive jelly looks beautiful on scones, cookies, or cakes. It also makes an excellent glaze for pork, chicken, fish, or carrots.
For an herbal twist, add a cup of fresh mint or purple Thai basil (chopped) at the fruit-simmering stage, then strain. Both flavors complement the taste of the fruit and the purple basil is especially pretty.