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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Berry Hike...

3:30 pm - 72 degrees - cloudy...

I love, love, love living in the mountains.  Being able to step outside the front door and walk around our property harvesting wild berries, is just amazing!  Now that harvest season is upon us, it’s time to go on another berry hike and see what we can find.

There are so many different types of shrubs and trees that offer up a berry tempting variety of fruits for our taste buds.  However, it’s always important to keep in mind that not all fruits found in our forest are safe to eat.  So after a tasty stroll around the property, here’s what we found...

Blackcap aka Wild Black Raspberry {Rubus occidentalis}

Blackcap aka Wild Black Raspberry {Rubus occidentalis}

The Blackcap or Black Raspberries are closely related to the Red Raspberry but the black fruit makes them look like Blackberries.  Even though many may get them confused, they have a taste that is uniquely their own and oh so delicious!

Blue Elderberry aka Blue Elder {Sambucus cerulea}

Whether it be red or blue, Elderberries are easy to like.  They are user-friendly.  Jam, jelly, pies, syrup, schnapps, brandy and wine can all be made from those tiny little berries.  The flowers are also edible and can be used in pancakes and muffins or just dipped in batter and fried.  They also make a nice tea.

Blue Huckleberry {Vaccinium deliciosum}

Any hiker in the Pacific Northwest worth his or her weight in Huckleberries, know that late summer hiking has joys all its own...of a juicy, purple/blue variety.  The wild Blue Huckleberry is a very coveted berry.  Pickers often find themselves competing with Black bears, cougars, and other native animals for the sweet, juicy huckleberries which are just delicious in pies, jam, pancakes, muffins, ice cream, syrup, and oh so much more.

Oregon  Grape {Mahonia nervosa}

The Oregon Grape is not related to true grapes, but gets its name from the purple cluster of berries whose color and slightly dusted appearance are reminiscent of grapes.  The berries are highly acidic (sour), but they make a delicious jam.

Oval Leaf Blueberry aka Alaska Blueberry aka Early Blueberry {Vaccinium ovalifolium}

The wild Blueberries that we found in our yard are likely the most well know berry on our list of berries we’ve found here.  And personally I think they taste just as good if not better than the ones bought in the store.  I even had to pick a handful so I can make Blueberry pancakes in the morning.

Red Elderberry {Sambucus racemosa}

Some references say Red Elderberries are edible, some say they are not.  Basically what I have found out is that if you eat a lot of raw, whole, Red Elderberries, you will most likely end up with an upset stomach.  If they are deseeded and cooked, then they are just fine.

Red Huckleberry {Vaccinium parvifolium}

These delicate translucent berries have been a source of food for generations of Northwest natives, animals and people alike.  As heavily used as they are, not everyone enjoys their tangy-tart flavor.  It is for this reason that the Red Huckleberries are usually combines with other berries, like the Blueberry to add sweetness.

Salal {Gaultheria shallon}

The Salal’s dark blue berries and young leaves are both edible, and both with a unique flavor.  Salal berries were a significant food resource for Native Americas, who both ate them fresh and dried them into cakes.  More recently, the berries are used in james, preserves and pies.  They are often combined with Oregon Grape berries because the tartness of the Oregon Grape is partially masked by the mild sweetness of the Salal berries.

Salmonberry {Rubus spectabilis}

The Salmonberry, Thimbleberry, Trailing Blackberry and Black Caps all share the fruit structure of the Raspberry, with the fruit pulling away from its receptacle.  Books often call the Salmonberry “insipid” but depending on ripeness and where you found them, they are good eaten raw and when processed into jam, jelly and wine.

Stink Currant aka Blue Currant {Ribes bracteosum}

Stink Currant is named for its skunky aroma.  It’s far less pungent than Skunk Cabbage, and the name doesn’t always translate to flavor.  It seems that the flavor of these berries can range anywhere from nasty to delicious. 

Thimbleberry {Rubus parviflorus}

Thimbleberries are larger, flatter, and softer than Raspberries, and have many small seeds.  Because the fruit if so soft, it does not pack or ship well, so Thimbleberries are rarely cultivated commercially.  However, wild Thimbleberries can be eaten raw, dried or made into jam.

Trailing Blackberry {Rubus ursinus}

This Blackberry is not the big brambly invasive bully lining area rivers and roadways.  Our native Trailing Blackberry likes to spread.  Instead of forming self supported brambles, it rambles about the landscape as a vine-like ground cover, but tastes just as delicious as the brambly Blackberry.


...we found quite a few actually!  I just love having all these delicious wild edible berries around our home!  

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