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What’s An Autumn Olive?


What do China, Japan and Rutland, Ohio have in common? Autumn olives! My newest favourite fruit. I clearly made like a bird munching these autumn olive goodies right off the branch.

These berries are tart little things and without knowing much about them, we figured with their bright pink/red colour, they had to be potent in antioxidants. After doing a little research, I’ve discovered they are potent in many things. Wish I ate more.

autumn olive

what is an autumn olive?

Mark my words my little healthy hearted readers, the autumn olive will be the goji, the noni, the acai, and perhaps even the mangosteen of the future. They are potent nutritional powerhouses. Best of all – though they grow in Asia, they do also grow across the US which is much closer to home.

The autumn olive bush produces little fruits, or berries, each one containing a seed. These fruits are super-powered sources of lycopene which helps keep the prostate healthy, and is a potent anti-oxidant. The lycopene content of autumn olive fruit averages about 40 to 50 mg/100g, compared to 3 mg/100g for fresh raw tomato.

Because of the high lycopene levels in autumn olive fruit, and the potential health benefits of this phytonutrient, there has been increased interest in commercial production of this fruit. This basically means we should eat them now before industry starts messing with the supply.

Speaking of which, the Autumn Olive plant is not native to North America and governments deem it harmful as it does compete with native shrubs and plants. The governmental agriculture departments are working on having them eliminated because of their ability to spread. Funny since last I checked, GMO soy and corn crops were also spreading their seed where it was not wanted…I digress. Though it is never good when foreign plants take over from native ones, the fact that the autumn olive shrubs are tough ones to kill -sprouting, spreading and growing with a vengeance – says something about the virility and aliveness that gets captured in this berry.

I would love for you to comment with a fave random fruit that grows locally in your area.

23 responses to “What’s An Autumn Olive?”

  1. Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope says:

    Hey Meghan, just wanted to stop by and say I love your blog. I’ve been following you sine before the site changed names, when it was just you blogging about food and health. I loved you then and I love you even more now! Awesome.
    I wanted to let you know about my 31-Day Yoga Challenge. For the month of October, I’ll be doing Yoga every single day.
    You can read about it on my blog if you get a chance…

  2. Lauren says:

    You need to read the Fruit Hunters–that book made my mouth water for crazy exotic fruits (some of which you mentioned).
    BEAUTIFUL PICS!! I am so jealous!

    • Jeff of the fey says:

      Autumn olive/Russian olive is also rich in vitamin c, if you forage off the land vitamin c is hard to get, also big govt/corporations/ gmo is gonna be the ruin of earth

  3. Brittany says:

    I always thought kumquats were pretty silly and strange. They’re grape-sized and grape-shaped, but with a thin skin that resembles an orange peel. (They are supposed to be eaten whole, skin and all.) A former roommate and I saw them at the store one day and thought they were cute, so we brought a bunch home aaaaannnnd… they were disgusting. I’m talking make a weird face, run to the trash can to spit it out, and fight for the kitchen faucet so we can scrub our tastebuds AWFUL. You know how a perm smells? Imagine having that in your mouth and radiating through your nose. Not to be wasteful, we graciously offered them to all of our visitors that week. Surprisingly, at least one person thought they were really tasty. Try some! Tell me what you think! ;-)

  4. VeggieGirl says:

    VERY intriguing! Never seen or tried those, for sure.

  5. Ashley says:

    Your pictures from the trip are so beautiful. I especially love the web and the turtle.

    Love that you were eating them right off the branch!! Such amazing health benefits with those little guys. I’m suitably impressed!

  6. celestial says:

    not all that bizarre but saskatoon berries are native to my homeland (albreta)… like blueberries mysterious, romantic cousin. a bucketful of them smell like enchanted forest!!

    and I love kumquats! I cant eat oranges so they are the perfect teensy burst of love to quench my citrus Im a sucker for all things bitter:)

  7. hector black says:

    We’ve been growing and selecting autumn olives for 30 years, have some with larger size and excellent flavor. I wrote to the TN Dept Ag last year when they wanted to ban the growing of autumn olive citing research by the USDA Beltsville on their super nutritional value. Be glad to send that to you. We love ’em.

  8. Teresa says:

    Wow the Autumn Olive seems so cool! I hope I get to try one one day. My favorite fruit, which also happens to be a fall fruit, while not so exotic, is the persimmon. Also known as Kaki fruit to many, as I learned while in Argentina. I love the hachiya best, but I’ll never say no to a fuyu because they are delicious as well. Just don’t forget to wait until the hachiya variety is super soft, mushy, and wrinkly- you really have to treat it like a baby and handle it carefully. But don’t be afraid to let the juicy liquid drip down your cheeks while you scarf it down! Can ya tell I absolutely LOVE this fruit? haha…

    Your pictures are gorgeous! My favorites are the web and the turtle. I have an odd fascination with spiders, especially their webs, and turtles/tortoises are just the cutest! Ohio is calling my name.

  9. Teresa says:

    Meant to mention… I’m a kumquat fan as well. Too bad for Brittany.

  10. Alex says:

    Aww, look at you, you little tomato nymph, you.

    When I lived in Ecuador I fell in love with an ugly little fruit called the “Grenadilla”. It has an orange egg-like shell, and is all grey and gelatinous and lumpy on the inside. Slurp! Not exactly local though…

    Love the pics!

  11. venus says:

    I’ve always thought Gooseberries were kind of weird and under rated. They are native to the UK and Ireland. I Have no idea where else they grow. Maybe everywhere! We have them growing in our garden, but you rarely see them in the shops.

  12. Angelica says:

    YES! I have these growing in my backyard and was just wondering if they were edible.

  13. Jody says:

    I have a huge bag of autumn olives waiting to be made into jam and whatever else I can think of right now. I’m working on a pie recipe and plan on giving the jam as Christmas presents. My fav wild fruit is American elderberry. Best jelly in the world! My friend Saba introduced me to the fruit of the kusa dogwood and they are really nice. They remind us a little of lychees. Just make sure they are ripe or your mouth will pucker up same as under ripe persimmon.

  14. Steve says:

    Where is this? I live in Ohio and would love to visit sometime, if it is open to the public.

  15. Olivia Schouten says:

    I am currently studying biology and have spent much of the past summer trying to remove autumn olive. I live in Iowa and this is one nasty plant when it comes to its ability to push out all other native plants. While I an all for using the seeds from this plant to make food, please, please, please don’t plant autumn olive in your backyard just for the seeds! It really is harmful to all of the wonderful native plants that we have here in the United States.

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      Thanks for sharing this, Olivia! Very interesting. We def need to be careful about what plants we encourage to thrive, especially if they are dangerous to other native plants.

  16. Joyce says:

    I am a fan of autumn olives. Even named my business after it. Yes they make great jams, fruit leather, even wine. I found I am allergic to something on my property that isn’t the normal poison ivy etc. I squeeze a berry on the first bump and it does not spread. It works on scrapes, bites, rashes, burns. Weird but true.

  17. Emil Fiore says:

    Thanks for letting me know these are edible! Next time I see them I will try some! I am in NJ and I have seen plenty of these!

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