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What's your favorite native/wild fruit to harvest and eat?

 
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We harvest persimmon, pawpaws (favorite), elderberries, mulberries, and blackberries.

Its not fruit but we also harvest black locust flowers in the spring and it makes up about 25% of our salad for a couple weeks.

There are also plenty of black walnuts, hickory, and acorn to harvest.

If you're in the Ozarks I highly recommend Foraging the Ozarks by Bo Brown.

 
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Derek Carter wrote:
Its not fruit but we also harvest black locust flowers in the spring and it makes up about 25% of our salad for a couple weeks.



Is there anything special you have to do with the flowers? I have an old book that brings up that my ancestors used to make a beer &/ or tea from Black Locust, but it turns out that the tree is poisonous. The book doesn't go into detail about what part to use or preparation & most people seem to be averse to touching it food-wise.

Unless, you meant honey locust & got auto-corrected, or something?
 
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Honestly mine would be Autumn olives. Prolific and delicious here.
 
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D Tucholske wrote:So far as I'm aware, the American Hawthorns should be fine. As to the different species, I believe they do something normally only associated with domesticated fruits- whatever fruits you end up with are kind of arbitrary. A tree just decides whether it wants to be red, green, yellow or black at random, so several colors aren't that odd. You can check as to whether they're thorned or thornless, but I don't know how much of a difference that makes in edibility.



Definitely have thorns.  Lots of thorns.  
Although I'd rather deal with the hawthorn thorns than the prickly ash we have in other places on the property.
 
D Tucholske
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Thomas Dean wrote:Definitely have thorns.  Lots of thorns.  Although I'd rather deal with the hawthorn thorns than the prickly ash we have in other places on the property.



Ok, then, at the very least, I can say that it's definitely a different species than I know of. We have thornless ones &, according to a study by a botonist 10 yrs ago, my area might actually have a unique species that only occurs naturally here. I guess we ought to try to find out what known species may be poisonous & narrow things down from there.
 
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Maypop
 
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Morels
 
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D Tucholske wrote:

Thomas Dean wrote:Definitely have thorns.  Lots of thorns.  Although I'd rather deal with the hawthorn thorns than the prickly ash we have in other places on the property.



Ok, then, at the very least, I can say that it's definitely a different species than I know of. We have thornless ones &, according to a study by a botonist 10 yrs ago, my area might actually have a unique species that only occurs naturally here. I guess we ought to try to find out what known species may be poisonous & narrow things down from there.



I have both. The black locust here is considered invasive in my county [Portage]. Across the road, in Wood County, it is not. Black locust has thorns, [not real big ones] gets pollinated by honeybees and the honey they make of it is highly superior to even the clover honey. It is totally transparent, like water, and fragrant. Also, it will never harden, which makes it very valuable. My 2 honey locusts do not have thorns, and as far as I know, do not grow wild here. They were sold to me by a reputable nursery, but I don't know what I have. It is definitely not the wild version of Gledistia triacanthos ,as the names implies "with triple thorns". Here is a look at the monster: https://www.smokymountainnews.com/archives/item/25860-honey-locust-pods-are-well-protected
Otherwise, here are some other differences to help you sort out what you have: http://www.differencebetween.net/science/nature/difference-between-black-and-honey-locust-trees/#:~:text=The%20leaves%20are%20very%20different,trees%20have%20bipinnate%20compound%20leaves.&text=central%20eastern%20part.-,The%20black%20locust's%20bark%20is%20dark%20in%20colour%20with%20grooves,tree%20has%20bunches%20of%20thorns.
Considering that what a nursery calls "honey locust" makes not pods and has not thorns, it is possible to have a "thorn less honey locust". It is not God's creation through. You might use it for forage. There is a thread in permies titled "edibility of honey locust leaves/pods".  https://permies.com/t/1664/edibility-honey-locust-leaves-pods
Hope that helps.

 
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:...Black locust has thorns, [not real big ones]... My 2 honey locusts do not have thorns, and as far as I know, do not grow wild here. They were sold to me by a reputable nursery, but I don't know what I have. It is definitely not the wild version of Gledistia triacanthos, as the names implies "with triple thorns"...Considering that what a nursery calls "honey locust" makes not pods and has not thorns, it is possible to have a "thorn less honey locust". It is not God's creation through.


Black locust thorns may not be as big as those of other trees, like honey locust or some citrus, but they are still nothing to trifle with!  The younger branches and trunks are absolutely covered with them.  On an adult tree, these would be much higher up than one would need worry about.  But if some branch tips hang low, or if you copice your trees as I do, then you'd better watch where you are wandering in the dark, because a black locust will make a sad mess of you real quick.

As for your thornless honey locusts, I've heard of those before.  It is my understanding that they are hybrids, as you indicated, which means beware of any resultant seedlings, which will sprout those infamous 6" monsters!  But I've also read that there is a naturally thornless subspecies (?)  I am confused, though: you said that your thornless honey locusts do NOT make seed pods?
 
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D Tucholske wrote:

Derek Carter wrote:
Its not fruit but we also harvest black locust flowers in the spring and it makes up about 25% of our salad for a couple weeks.


Is there anything special you have to do with the flowers? I have an old book that brings up that my ancestors used to make a beer &/ or tea from Black Locust, but it turns out that the tree is poisonous. The book doesn't go into detail about what part to use or preparation & most people seem to be averse to touching it food-wise.

Unless, you meant honey locust & got auto-corrected, or something?


Thank you, I would also like to know the answer to your question.  I have planted many black locusts, and while I know that they are beloved by bees, it would also be great to harvest the flowers for more direct use.  But it would be nice to know first if they are or are not poisonous!  I know that the pods are indeed poisonous, but the flowers...?
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Matthew Nistico wrote:

Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:...Black locust has thorns, [not real big ones]... My 2 honey locusts do not have thorns, and as far as I know, do not grow wild here. They were sold to me by a reputable nursery, but I don't know what I have. It is definitely not the wild version of Gledistia triacanthos, as the names implies "with triple thorns"...Considering that what a nursery calls "honey locust" makes not pods and has not thorns, it is possible to have a "thorn less honey locust". It is not God's creation through.


Black locust thorns may not be as big as those of other trees, like honey locust or some citrus, but they are still nothing to trifle with!  
As for your thornless honey locusts, I've heard of those before.  It is my understanding that they are hybrids, as you indicated, which means beware of any resultant seedlings, which will sprout those infamous 6" monsters!  But I've also read that there is a naturally thornless subspecies (?)  I am confused, though: you said that your thornless honey locusts do NOT make seed pods?



I hear you on the thorns of the black locust if you are not careful. Here, it can be quite invasive as it suckers a lot and it seems that cutting it off just encourages it to grow. Mow it flat and it will grow all the more the following year. May be that is why it is a good coppicing tree. We've had people who had a small yard and thought it would be a great ornamental, casting dappled shade. Well. they don't have a yard anymore. When cut on the top, they grow a mat of roots that you have to excavate or spray repeatedly with herbicide. They make beautiful fragrant racemes. Some years, the bees are all over them. Other years, they don't touch it.

The honey locust I have must be a male, I figure, although when they sell it to you, how would they know? They say it is "polygamo-dioecious", which means that the species has unisexual flowers with male (staminate) and female (pistillate) flowers on different trees, but also some perfect flowers (both male and female parts) on each tree. So I might still have to worry about the occasional honey locust that decides to throw a few seeds around. Although they are thornless, when under stress, they might throw a few thorns. I'll have to watch out. Mine are less than 10 ft now. The leaves grow green and turn a beautiful yellow in the fall.
 
Matthew Nistico
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:I hear you on the thorns of the black locust if you are not careful. Here, it can be quite invasive as it suckers a lot and it seems that cutting it off just encourages it to grow. Mow it flat and it will grow all the more the following year. May be that is why it is a good coppicing tree. We've had people who had a small yard and thought it would be a great ornamental, casting dappled shade. Well. they don't have a yard anymore.



Very true!  I absolutely love BL.  It is one of the quintessential permaculture species, with a list of attributes a yard long.  I am at the edge of its native range, so it grows very dependably for me (read: it shoots up like a weed).

But yes, it does like to sucker.  And yes, that is why they say about black locust "it grows fast; it coppices even faster."  Every time I walk through my food forest, I carry a pair of pruners and snip BL suckers wherever I find them.  And in my experience, about 2 out of 3 times BL does indeed accept coppicing in a textbook fashion: you chop it 6" above the soil in late winter, the stump grows one or more new shoots that spring, which grow quickly into a new shrub.  Within another year or so, you can prune off all but one shoot to become the new trunk.  Within just another couple years after that, it's ready for coppicing again.

But the 3rd time out of 3 I find that the stool - the living stump leftover from coppicing - does not regrow new shoots.  Instead, the entire area within a 10' radius throws up a few dozen root suckers.  So, then you must pick one close to the original stool to grow, snip the rest, and just deal with the reality that your coppiced tree has migrated a foot or so to the left from where it was last year.  Eventually the old stump will rot away, I suppose.

So yes, you do have to keep on top of BL.  Every year there are trees to coppice, suckers to prune, and often major branches to lop off of the ones that aren't quite ready to coppice yet, but which are still casting too much shade.  At least for me; I have them planted fairly densely among my various fruit/nut trees/bushes.  But that's okay.  More firewood produced, and more nitrogen dumped into my soil, with every cut!
 
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I consider myself blessed to have several mature black locusts in the back yard, and a patch of young trees growing up which I plan to coppice.  But I can see that someone with a small yard would do better to choose something else for a shade tree!  For one thing, the black locust seems to have brittle branches; some come down any time we have a big storm.  And it would certainly overwhelm a small yard quickly if you didn't stay on top of it.  But my bedroom is in our attic, and one of my windows opens onto the back yard where the trees are; I love to look out and see and smell the flowers when the locust trees are blooming.  Last year we had a hard frost at just the wrong time and they didn't bloom, and I was very disappointed.  Hopefully we'll get some flowers this year.

 
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Kevin Goheen wrote:Honestly mine would be Autumn olives. Prolific and delicious here.



Love autumn olives!!! I make jam with them, and add a hint of cinnamon.  Fantastic!
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Matthew Nistico wrote:

D Tucholske wrote:

Derek Carter wrote:
Its not fruit but we also harvest black locust flowers in the spring and it makes up about 25% of our salad for a couple weeks.


Is there anything special you have to do with the flowers? I have an old book that brings up that my ancestors used to make a beer &/ or tea from Black Locust, but it turns out that the tree is poisonous. The book doesn't go into detail about what part to use or preparation & most people seem to be averse to touching it food-wise.

Unless, you meant honey locust & got auto-corrected, or something?


Thank you, I would also like to know the answer to your question.  I have planted many black locusts, and while I know that they are beloved by bees, it would also be great to harvest the flowers for more direct use.  But it would be nice to know first if they are or are not poisonous!  I know that the pods are indeed poisonous, but the flowers...?



Yes, it is the flower of the black locust you can harvest to make a cold tea: https://www.instructables.com/Black-Locust-Flower-Cold-Brew-Tea/ While I was researching for what to do with locust blossoms, I came across this page: https://www.pinterest.com/foragedfoodie/forage-black-locust/  and I'm really intrigued about making liqueur or jelly. It sounds yummy. It seems that you can also eat the seeds, but the pods need to be cooked.
If it becomes invasive, you can always get goats: they will browse it to extinction in a couple of years, even the larger trees as they will strip the bark.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:

Matthew Nistico wrote:

D Tucholske wrote:

Derek Carter wrote:
Its not fruit but we also harvest black locust flowers in the spring and it makes up about 25% of our salad for a couple weeks.


Is there anything special you have to do with the flowers? I have an old book that brings up that my ancestors used to make a beer &/ or tea from Black Locust, but it turns out that the tree is poisonous. The book doesn't go into detail about what part to use or preparation & most people seem to be averse to touching it food-wise.

Unless, you meant honey locust & got auto-corrected, or something?


Thank you, I would also like to know the answer to your question.  I have planted many black locusts, and while I know that they are beloved by bees, it would also be great to harvest the flowers for more direct use.  But it would be nice to know first if they are or are not poisonous!  I know that the pods are indeed poisonous, but the flowers...?



Yes, it is the flower of the black locust you can harvest to make a cold tea: https://www.instructables.com/Black-Locust-Flower-Cold-Brew-Tea/ While I was researching for what to do with locust blossoms, I came across this page: https://www.pinterest.com/foragedfoodie/forage-black-locust/  and I'm really intrigued about making liqueur or jelly. It sounds yummy. It seems that you can also eat the seeds, but the pods need to be cooked.
If it becomes invasive, you can always get goats: they will browse it to extinction in a couple of years, even the larger trees as they will strip the bark.



I'm not so sure about that -- unless the goats are way overstocked.  I've got black locusts and goats, and so far they haven't done any more than eat what leaves they could reach.  They haven't eaten bark at all, not even off the young trees.  (But if they can keep the sprouts under control, that will be great!)
 
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I'm replying before I read the rest of the thread. We grew up foraging and growing stuff. While I still forage, I look forward to harvesting Diospyros virginiana (American or common persimmon) more than anything else on earth. And contrary to common belief, you do not need to wait until frost. Astringent persimmons include American persimmons and some Asian persimmons, though some Asian persimmons are not astringent and can be eaten prior to bletting. In many areas of the native range you'll never get a frost before the fruit is ripe. As you go North, it's likely you'll see frost before most are finished bletting. That's where the misconception of needing frost comes from. It's coincidental timing. Additionally, not all persimmons ripen at the same time...not even all in the same location. If you're planning your orchards, make a note of the timing of fruit ripening. I've eaten ripe persimmons at the end of August into early September though most are still several weeks from ripening. Bletting in native persimmons must occur or your mouth will feel like you swished around alum. If partially bletted, they can start out sweet but the drawing up of the mouth will make you forget it. Totally survivable of course. You want persimmons that look like a glob of flesh in wet tissue paper...like they will rupture at any moment. After full bletting, if any still persist on the trees, they can start to dry. I've eaten the previous Fall's persimmons right off the tree but it's unusual to have any last that long as all manner of animals relish therm as well. Anyway, sorry to geek out on persimmons but nothing gives me better memories than when my grandfather taught me about persimmons...the hard way! Since that time, nothing smells more like the holidays than persimmon pudding aroma wafting from the oven.

Sorry to geek out on persimmons, but it just happened that the topic was a trigger.
 
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Skandi Rogers wrote:We don't get too many fruits that are worth picking really

Blackberries (fairly uncommon)
Raspberries (very seedy and often dry)
Wild strawberries (lovely but never very many)
Wild cherries (normally horribly sour)
Elder (not great straight off the tree)
Hawthorn (very boring)
Rowen (bitter)
Rose hips (fiddly!)
Bilberries (blueberries smaller cousin oddly unproductive here compared to Scotland)
Sea buckthorn (If you can snack on these you've not got a tastebud left!)

Cloudberries are lovely but way to rare to pick, they should be photographed and left alone.

Of the above I like blackberries best here, as they are the only one (fresh eating) you can get enough of to do much with Back in Scotland I would say bilberries as with a berry picker you could fill a bucket in under an hour, and they taste so good.





Many many moons ago I walked up Møllehøj with my family. I fondly remember foraging blueberries () or possibly bilberries the entire walk up as well as the walk back down. It took considerably longer that way!

EDIT - I may be mistaken. It could have been somewhere else. I remember it was the highest point but after doing some reading, there seem to have been some changes...some even fairly recent. As I remember, the only way to get to the top was a decent sized trail through the woods and it there were a fair number of people making the hike. All the berry picking was in the understory of that forest.
 
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Steve Thorn wrote:It can't get much better than harvesting free and no effort fruit.

We have lots of wild blackberries around here, and during the summer they produce loads of tasty and flavorful berries. These are probably my favorite. They can be eaten fresh or made into wonderful treats!

I've also found a wild peach tree that was really good and a mulberry tree that I haven't tasted yet, but hope to very soon this summer.

We don't have that much wild fruit growing around here that I've seen, and it seems like few people around here even grow fruit anymore, but hopefully that will soon change!

What types of native or wild fruit do you have growing near you and what is your favorite?



Raspberries and Blackberries! I will fight mosquitoes to eat them lol.
 
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I'm hoping it wasn't a one off sort of thing, but last year the dewberry harvest (our version of wild blackberries) and mulberry tree's ripening happened at the same time and was amazing!
It looks like both the dewberries and mulberries are going to try to coordinate again, so I'm looking forward to putting mulberries and dewberries in my breakfast bowl.
If I can, I will be gathering extra for long term storage in some form or fashion. I haven't tried to make a mulberry jam, but dewberry jam is live the promise of summer all year 'round.

Last year I saw that a bird had left us a "Mustang" grape, one of those great Concord wild ones and it is fighting with a few other vining plants in a corner of the garden. Hopefully, it'll fruit this year. Those are always wonderful, too.

I'm hoping to add a fig tree this year, but it may not happen. I'll see if I can get one in the fall, so it'll have a little bit to settle in.
I've been having fun reading through this thread. Thank you very much for the overview of what happens around the world. Very cool.
 
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Some people say they have no flavor but I like salmon berry.
 
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I love thimbleberries best in summer & wintergreen berries fall to spring. Both grow wild at my place, along with raspberries, strawberries, dewberries, pin cherries, and juneberries. Nearby are blueberries, chokeberries and cranberries. Farther away are high bush cranberries, which I like to make into ketchup. Up at my dad's place (wetter soil than I have here), there are wild plums, chokecherries, and currants.

One fruit I didn't realize was edible until recently is the fruit of Maianthemum racemosum, sometimes called false Solomon's seal or Solomon's plume. I'm learning to like it, because it's very abundant here. On the other hand, if I don't eat it, the wildlife do, so I feel fine leaving it alone.
 
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Thomas Dean wrote:

David Harrold wrote:


The native american black hawthorn has several small seeds compared to the single large seed of the european hawthorn.  This characteristic allows the black hawthorn to be juiced with an omega juicer ( a victorio strainer on steroids).  It works best to add apples to the mix as the hawthorn "juice/pulp" is very viscous and tends to jell as soon as it gets extruded due to its high pectin content.  The apple flavour is a natural compliment to the hawthorn and with a little added cinnamon, makes a very tasty pie filling.  I like to blend up the apple/hawthorn juice in a blender to break up the jell.

David



I've heard that some hawthorns are not safe to eat?  We have hawthorns in the woods near us.  I like them because I know that they provide food for wildlife, and because they don't grow tall and then die like the poplar and soft maples.  Those are always dying and seem to fall on the chicken coops, across an electric fence, etc.  We live in Michigan, but I have no idea what species of hawthorn we have.  Just by looking at morphology of the fruit, I think we have more than one species but I really have no idea.  Any good source of info on IDing or eating them?



I've never heard of a species of hawthorn that isn't edible, although some just don't taste that great. I'm your neighbor over here in Wisconsin and we have many species of hawthorn (Crataegus), but I have given up on trying to nail down specific IDs. I use the leaves for medicinal tea, and unlike many medicinal plants, the species of hawthorn doesn't matter for this use. Personally, I also feel fine eating any hawthorn without knowing what species it is, but that isn't advice, I suppose. If you want to rule out the possibility, you could pull up a list of each species known to be present in Michigan and find out whether they all are safe.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Marisa Lee wrote:I love thimbleberries best in summer & wintergreen berries fall to spring. Both grow wild at my place, along with raspberries, strawberries, dewberries, pin cherries, and juneberries. Nearby are blueberries, chokeberries and cranberries. Farther away are high bush cranberries, which I like to make into ketchup. Up at my dad's place (wetter soil than I have here), there are wild plums, chokecherries, and currants.
One fruit I didn't realize was edible until recently is the fruit of Maianthemum racemosum, sometimes called false Solomon's seal or Solomon's plume. I'm learning to like it, because it's very abundant here. On the other hand, if I don't eat it, the wildlife do, so I feel fine leaving it alone.



Wait. you make ketchup with high bush cranberries??? I have a number of these bushes, and considering that nothing eats them around here, I've always thought they were totally worthless. The possibility of making ketchup out of them is really intriguing! You just have to share the recipe!
I also have false Salomon Seal but I didn't think they were edible. I wonder what they taste like.
 
D Tucholske
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:Wait. you make ketchup with high bush cranberries??? I have a number of these bushes, and considering that nothing eats them around here, I've always thought they were totally worthless. The possibility of making ketchup out of them is really intriguing! You just have to share the recipe!
I also have false Salomon Seal but I didn't think they were edible. I wonder what they taste like.



Native people make jam & jelly out of them. You'll usually hear the Cree up in Canada refer to them as "Moose berries." Also, winter bird usually forage the dried berries all winter long, since they tend to last on the bush. Most species taste really bad, though. In my area, we have about 4 or 5 native species. Only one, the American Cranberrybush variety, is edible right off the bush. Most of the other red kinds taste horribly astringent, but I don't believe them to be poisonous (though, I guess there are a lot of plants with little, round, red berries which are) & one, Brandywine Viburnum, the only black-berried variety, I've heard one Youtuber compare the taste to cat shit. Given the way I've heard a lot of people in Ohio describe Firethorn, though, I think a lot of Firethorn enthusiasts have been confusing Firethorn & Viburnum for years, & the only reason those people give for not eating whatever they've been eating raw for years was just bad taste. Not poison.

False Solomon's Seal berries are called Treacleberries, but I've also heard that too many of them at once can induce diarrhea. Most people eat the young shoots as a vegetable, which is the preferred usage. Personally, I have as yet to try either.
 
Marisa Lee
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:

Marisa Lee wrote:I love thimbleberries best in summer & wintergreen berries fall to spring. Both grow wild at my place, along with raspberries, strawberries, dewberries, pin cherries, and juneberries. Nearby are blueberries, chokeberries and cranberries. Farther away are high bush cranberries, which I like to make into ketchup. Up at my dad's place (wetter soil than I have here), there are wild plums, chokecherries, and currants.
One fruit I didn't realize was edible until recently is the fruit of Maianthemum racemosum, sometimes called false Solomon's seal or Solomon's plume. I'm learning to like it, because it's very abundant here. On the other hand, if I don't eat it, the wildlife do, so I feel fine leaving it alone.



Wait. you make ketchup with high bush cranberries??? I have a number of these bushes, and considering that nothing eats them around here, I've always thought they were totally worthless. The possibility of making ketchup out of them is really intriguing! You just have to share the recipe!
I also have false Salomon Seal but I didn't think they were edible. I wonder what they taste like.



HB cranberries taste like pickle juice when eaten fresh, in my opinion. While cooking, they stink. I call them stinky sock berries. Some people say the flavor improves with the cold, but I collect them in the fall, before a frost, because that's when I want to be outdoors doing so. At least you don't have to rush to collect them during that fleeting moment of ripeness & before wild animals clean them out.

I based my ketchup/sauce off reading a few recipes online and then winging it. That's how I cook. The first year I made it, it was so good. It was like sweet & sour barbecue sauce. I used some ginger, maple sugar, apple cider vinegar, and god knows what else. Subsequent years, it has been more of a ketchup, but still nicely tangy. There are lots of recipes out there. I haven't done a jelly/jam but would really like to try. Oh the color is beautiful, too, as it cooks. So look around online for recipes and follow them loosely, using what's onhand. That's my advice.
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