Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Berry Primer

The bright red berries are bunchberries (from the Canada Mayflower), which are edible, but don't have a lot of flavor.  I pick them and add them to smoothies.  They don't change the flavor or texture but they have nutrition and fiber.  The darker berries are low bush cranberries, which aren't fully yummy ripe till they've been hit by a frost or two.

I pick rosehips, pop off the dried, old flower bud and throw them in the freezer intact.  The fuzzies inside irritate the mouth and lining of the stomach, but if I throw them in my smoothies the Vitamix tends to take care of any issues so I get a really easy way to get a hefty dose of Vitamin C in my diet.

I call these Orange Berries; I think they're also called Pumpkin Berries for their bright orange color.  These are also edible but I avoid them as I haven't been impressed with their flavor (even less so than bunchberries).

High bush cranberries are one of our favorite berries.  Once they've been hit by hard frost, the leaves have fallen off and even better, the berries are frozen (picked in October or November or later), they are easy to gather and we can get gallons of these in an hour in the right patch.  I freeze them, then thaw them, juice them in a tomato juicer (by hand with one of those wooden mallets).  One cup of juice, one half cup of sugar and a pitcher full of water makes fresh cranberry juice that we like to serve to our guests and nearly all love it.  Sometimes a dash of lemon juice is a nice touch.

Trailing raspberries creep along the ground and often the berries are embedded in the moss on the ground.  There are never quantities enough to pick just for themselves, but we snack on them as we hike and throw them in with other berries.

I had the privilege to pick the most amazing blueberries of my life this past weekend across Kachemak Bay.  The berry bushes were loaded beyond belief and the berries were huge by wild Alaskan blueberry standards.  There are many kinds of blueberries in Alaska (like 6-10 I think) and this kind is great because they grow on bushes 3-5 feet high and are easy to pick.  These just get washed and thrown in the freezer to go into treats and smoothies all winter long.
Fruits of my labor this weekend.  The ziplock bag has black currants in it.  I am kicking myself for not getting pictures of the bushes out there because entire hillsides were covered with current bushes loaded with berries.  It was amazing.  They're not as tasty as other berries (a little musky smelling) and I'm not sure how well they'll go with my smoothies as I have never picked any quantity of them before.

This isn't all the berries we pick; I'll have to do Berry Primer II when I get to my other berries in the next month.

4 comments:

Smith Family Resources said...

Just stumbled on to your blog today. Beautiful! I wonder if you might be interested in helping our family with a Postcard Exchange. You can read about it on our blog at http://smithfamilyresources.blogspot.com/2013/08/postcard-exchange.html. We have also pinned it at http://pinterest.com/pin/467037423827995697/. Thanks! Melissa Smith ~ Helena, Alabama

Smith Family Resources said...

Hi! Thank you for the awesome postcard. It's the first one we've received from Alaska. Thanks for helping us with our postcard exchange.
Matthew Smith

Anonymous said...

Hi enjoyed your Homer berry picking Blog Entry I just returned from my Alaskan cruise and hike to Grewingk Glacier Lake The kind gave us a taste of berries that were still remaining along the trail…Including a blueberry and what he called a Nagoon berry..a small red berry amongst the mosses …Not at all like the pictures I see of lagoon berries …It was very delicate and more tasty than the blueberry …and seemed to fit the description of your trailing raspberry though not appearing like a raspberry. Any ideas on what this might be ..I did get a picture of one and what might be a white blossom …Thanks
Philip

Michelle Waclawski said...

We have both nagoonberries and trailing raspberries and they look quite similar, hugging the ground and being quite small plants and berries. The nagoonberry has a pink blossom while the trailing raspberry has a white blossom. I have never seen trailing raspberries to be in any quantity large enough to be more than a tasty nibble along a trail. I have, however, found extensive nagoonberry patches though the berries are difficult to pull off the plant (old blossom). I suspect that if the blossom was white what you saw was a trailing raspberry.
Perhaps these images might help (not sure if they will be clickable links).

http://www.turtlepuddle.org/pix/07Aug/Flattop/trailing-raspberry-fruit.jpg

http://unimak.us/images/nagoon_berry_rubus_arcticus_300x.jpg