There's an art to taking someone to task and reader Anita Legsdin has it mastered. Her email was as delightful as it was educative....who would have known sugar combined with mountain ash berries and shaken regularly would result in a liqueur you'd want to drink?
Anita wrote in response to a Q&A in the Seattle Times from autumn 2006 (no statute of limitations on ANYTHING now that everything appears online as well as in print) in which she thought I was far too dismissive about the taste of mountain ash berries. Here's her email:
"I am of Latvian ancestry, and Latvians do all kinds of things with mountain ash berries. In Latvia, they wait until after the first frost to pick them, then they make jams and jellies out of them. My mother used to layer berries and sugar in a jar, then pour vodka over them, shake the jar once a day. After a few months, you have quite a pleasant-tasting liqueur. The older women liked to tell stories of birds that ate too many berries that had fermented, then crashed into windows.
Because of my experience with these berries, I take violent exception to your comment that they taste bland. They do not taste bland at all, rather, they are quite tart, with a very strong, unique taste. I have always thought they would make a fine addition to some kind of chutney, but I have yet to find a recipe that includes them. I am still looking."
Anyone have a recipe for chutney made with mountain ash berries? If so, please send it my way so I can pass it on to Anita....