THE AUTUMN OLIVE WASN’T ALWAYS a chef’s darling. Originally planted along New England highways to prevent erosion, the trees quickly developed into an invasive species. But their tart, ruby-hued berries, which feature a cranberrylike flavor that reaches its peak in November, have become a favorite in the local culinary universe. Jason Bond of Bondir uses them in house-made sodas, sorbets, and fruit leather, while Matt Jennings of Farmstead and La Laiterie in Providence puts them in jams, and alongside gamey meats like duck and venison. “Autumn olive is one of those things that can either be really good or really bad,” Jennings says. He looks for berries that easily come off the vine. “Those are the ones that are really sweet and delicious. Kind of like little flavor explosions.”
Photograph by Eric Kulin. Berries courtesy of Eva’s Garden, 508-636-5869.