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

 
pollinator
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Location: Central Virginia
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Most of these have already been mentioned, so I'll be brief. I've gathered wild things in several locations:

California---California bay nuts (bitter, must be cooked, very good baked); blackberries (of course); passion fruit (I know where it is naturalized in Griffith Park, L.A.); black elderberries (high in the Sierras, delicious, watch out for bears).

New Mexico---the ubiquitous tunas (prickly pears) of various shapes and colors; Arizona walnut (Juglans major), small, tasty, easier to open than black walnuts; juniper berries (seasoning for wild meats, and the larger juicier ones are edible fresh).

West Virginia-Virginia mountains---pawpaw; Juneberry; hackberry (today a forgotten food source, found to have been eaten since Homo erectus times, fruit & seed edible; rose hips; black raspberries.

In all of these places there are also fruits from old trees to be found, on old farmsteads, around houses, and so on. I knew of a huge avocado tree from which I picked many boxes of avocados, in Santa Barbara Country, as well as a lot of untended lemon trees.

I feel very good when I can make such things available to ourselves or to the public, food sources otherwise untapped.
 
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Location: Suffolk County, Long Island NY
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Has anyone ever harvested the leaves, shoots, or berries of mile-a-minute (Persicaria perfoliata)? I have access to a plethora of them part of the year, but I wouldn't know what to do with them. I am an ardent supporter of controlling invasive species by eating them when they are safe & tasty.

Weeds--not just for goats!
 
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Location: Detroit, MICH zone 5b -6 United States
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We have these "islands" in the middle of wide streets in historic neighborhoods.  I live one block away, but often walk my dog to admire the 1890-1940 mansions and gardens.  I've gathered chestnuts, 2 types of large crabapples, and 3 types of regular apples from old trees planted on the islands.  Their historic block club maintains all the trees, even the fruit trees so, you have to be careful in the Spring not to run over pheasant chicks, rabbits, possums and foxes.  I have 4 mulberry trees in my yard that divert birds from my strawberry patch but not the squirrels.  Mulberries are OK, but I prefer raspberries.   Last year I let the wild grape vine grow fruit just to try them out.  Tasty , concord-like flavor but the seeds are too large.
 
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One of my all-time favourites is the Golden Currant.  They are fairly common, growing in riparian areas throughout the western states.  I like the gold and black phase colors the best (they also come in red).  The flavours vary from bush to bush so it's good to find bushes that suit your taste.  They are also seedy so it's good to use a juicer (I use an omega juicer) to juice the berries.  I first clean them by putting them into a bowl of water.  The bad berries and debris generally float and can easily be removed by tipping the bowl.  The juice makes superb jelly.  I like to use Ball freezer pectin in order to retain all the natural enzymes and nutritional benefits.  I also freeze the juice in ice cube trays to add to smoothies.  The wonerful thing about golden currants is that there are a lot of them and nobody else seems  to know they exist.  I get them all to myself.  Make sure you check yourself well for ticks after harvesting though as they ripen during prime time tick season (early to midsummer).
image.jpeg
bowl of golden currants
 
gardener
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It's not a fruit, and it's not technically native, but..... it's that time of year!!! Bamboo-shoot-hunting time!!! We were slogging through rain and mud in the jungle yesterday, and we had a heck of a dinner.
bamboo.jpeg
bamboo shoots
bamboo shoots
 
pollinator
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David Harrold wrote:One of my all-time favourites is the Golden Currant.  They are fairly common, growing in riparian areas throughout the western states.  I like the gold and black phase colors the best (they also come in red).  The flavours vary from bush to bush so it's good to find bushes that suit your taste.  They are also seedy so it's good to use a juicer (I use an omega juicer) to juice the berries.  I first clean them by putting them into a bowl of water.  The bad berries and debris generally float and can easily be removed by tipping the bowl.  The juice makes superb jelly.  I like to use Ball freezer pectin in order to retain all the natural enzymes and nutritional benefits.  I also freeze the juice in ice cube trays to add to smoothies.  The wonerful thing about golden currants is that there are a lot of them and nobody else seems  to know they exist.  I get them all to myself.  Make sure you check yourself well for ticks after harvesting though as they ripen during prime time tick season (early to midsummer).



I'd love to have some of these, especially that as a true Ribes, they don't have spines. I have the red, and after a while the bush kinda dies: Too many grey stems, not many fruit. What of the taste?
So I was looking for where it could grow. and low an behold... pretty much everywhere. I just have not seen them here [Central WI.]
I'll be looking for them.
https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/ribes_aureum.shtml
 
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Here in the mountains of Southern Idaho the wild huckleberry is by far the best wild item to eat. They only grow in some mountains, not able to grow domestically.
They are quite small, about the size of a small pea, dark purple, and intensely sweet and tasty. Added to apple pie mix and you have a pie to die for.
Also great in pancakes, breads, cakes, and beer wine and candy.
 
David Harrold
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Location: Pasco, United States
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:

"Hawthorne "berries" may be 'boring' but they are great for the circulatory system, and can be added to tea, herbal or otherwise, can be added to a batch of  jelly if you make jelly!  I make vinegar from fruit, and think maybe next year I will add hawthorne to the fermenting juice.

"



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
 
David Harrold
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:

I'd love to have some of these, especially that as a true Ribes, they don't have spines. I have the red, and after a while the bush kinda dies: Too many grey stems, not many fruit. What of the taste?
So I was looking for where it could grow. and low an behold... pretty much everywhere. I just have not seen them here [Central WI.]
I'll be looking for them.
https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/ribes_aureum.shtml



They will grow just about anywhere so i wouldn't be surprised if you had them near you.  You will find them in river and stream valleys.  The taste of the golden berry is similar to an orange with a sweet taste and with a hint of rose hip.  The black has more of a sweet huckleberry taste and it also has a hint of rose hip.  But every bush will have a slightly different tasting berry and i have my favourite bushes that i pick from.

Try removing the old stems from your currant bush and you may get more fruit.
 
gardener
Posts: 950
Location: Galicia, Spain zone 9a
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Chestnuts! I have loved then since a child, but I have to restrain myself from eating them raw nowadays. But roasted, boiled, added to stews, souped, marron glace....oh my!
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
pollinator
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Mandy Launchbury-Rainey wrote:Chestnuts! I have loved then since a child, but I have to restrain myself from eating them raw nowadays. But roasted, boiled, added to stews, souped, marron glace....oh my!



I'd give my eyeteeth to be able to have a tree that will bear and not get the blight here. There are some hybrids, here and there, and I keep trying to get one that will go through the winter. They seem to survive a winter but not two. We can get some at Christmas, but they are not sold as dried, so you have to look them over because some will have a worm in them. I know that in Paris, I used to buy them without the shell or the skin, and we had to soak them a bit before cooking and adding to stuffings. You are so lucky!
 
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In the mountains here in southern Ecuador (semi-arid subtropical climate), we've got virtually unlimited cherimoyas growing. They are native here, so many of them have got insects of some kind. But the clean ones are outstanding. It seems to be the custom for everyone that lives around here to plant fruit trees everywhere they can, there are all kinds of citrus, passion fruit, cactus fruits, avocados and others for the asking and taking.
 
pollinator
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In Alaska, in the Interior (Delta Junction and Tok areas, mostly) blueberries and cranberries (lingonberries, technically).  

On the Oregon Coast, wild blackberries.  My mother used to can huge quantities of blackberry jam.  So much that I got sick of it, because our school lunches were always peanut butter and blackberry jam sandwiches.  I do not like peanut butter to this day.  (Of course, much later I found out that I have celiac disease, so that probably contributed. )

We haven’t been in Kentucky long enough, but I’ve enjoyed the paw paws a friend has shared with us.
 
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I couldn't agree more! I have a very prolific mulberry tree in my back yard that was here before I moved in, and it took me about 5 years to realize they were edible. But now I see them all over, especially one on the river path in the city, next to some black cap canes, so there's like a week in the summer where I stop and eat the berries that no one else notices (except the birds)

Ryan M Miller wrote:Back in the spring of 2019, I collected several pints of mulberries along a bike path. They are currently frozen in my freezer, but I should have time to make jam out of them in the next two months.

 
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I live in a very urban area. Raspberries and blackberries from yards and alleys. Mullberries from the boulevard and parking lot trees! Mayapples. Grapes from fences all over. Apples and pears from neighbors who don't pick theirs! We have chokecherries in the yard, but the robins get them all before they're remotely ripe for people-eating.
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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On Mallorca, the councils used to plant Seville oranges along the streets - the locals wouldn't touch them so they looked gorgeous when in fruit. Unless a certain ex-pat Brit was looking to make that year's batch of marmalade!  It wasn't  me - I never had the nerve to do it!
 
Victor Skaggs
pollinator
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I see some posts from outside the USA. This reminds me, when I lived in Guatemala once I was in the woods and heard repeated thumps, and walked around trying to figure out what was happening, and discovered that they were avocados, large ones, falling and hitting the ground! I looked up and they were growing everywhere! This woods was not tended, but may have been an old orchard. I imagine the plant life was generally tended and there was much cultivation going on when the Mayans ran things.

I am frustrated with the situation here in the Piedmont where the forests have been repeatedly logged, and many are now given over to monoculture plantings of loblolly pines, if not simply overcrowded spindly oaks of various species. I have to get up into the mountains to the West to really find much variety of trees.

This makes me want to plant trees! We put in a few hawthornes, a crab apple, and a black walnut, all still just saplings.

I'm much in sympathy with the Zorastrianist notion that nature can be improved, than humans can design the array of plant life to make everywhere a garden! An ancient precursor to permie thinking!
 
pollinator
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Ziziphus!!!
 
gardener
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We have wild blackberries (maybe black raspberries, I can’t really tell) that are AMAZINGLY sweet!  I can walk along our hedge and get handfuls every day in summer!

Eric
 
pollinator
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Eric Hanson wrote:We have wild blackberries (maybe black raspberries, I can’t really tell) that are AMAZINGLY sweet!  I can walk along our hedge and get handfuls every day in summer!Eric



If the ripe berries easily peel free from the stem leaving a hollow center like a thimble or a cap, that is a black raspberry. If some part of stem always comes with the berry, and there is no hollow, it is a blackberry.

 
pollinator
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We have an abundance of wild berries here in Alaska, but my absolute favorite is the wild blue berries.
 
gardener
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Here in the Pacific Northwest there are a lot of fantastic native berries. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Evergreen huckleberry - Vaccinium ovatum
2. Salmonberry - Rubus spectabilis
3. Blackcap raspberry - Rubus leucodermis
4. Osoberry - Oemleria cerasiformis
5. Coastal strawberry - Fragaria chiloensis
6. Woodland strawberry - Fragaria vesca
7. Pacific blackberry - Rubus ursinus
 
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Plums, blackberries, tart/semi tart cherries, raspberries, blueberries, figues, grapes, depending on area/climate.
Also in warmer/tropical areas:. mangos (mostly on roadsides, so not really wild), tamarind (the dark brown sour sort, delicious), jujube.
And once, only once did I find "hjortron", cloudberry, in Scandinavia. Also called the "Gold of the forest". You can purchase it as a jam in Scandinavia, probably one of the most expensive berries in the north.
 
Lana Weldon
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And I found lots and lots of walnuts nearby a small town park, nobody was caring about them, it's amazing that in this student town, the young ones really do not care about foraging. The squirrels were not happy when they saw me lol, so I left them a whole bunch. It's nice to see the red squirrels thriving around here.
 
pioneer
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I found red and black raspberries, sumacs, autumn olives, apples, and a pear tree on my property.
 
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Technically these are not all fruits, but still fruits of the wild....

Blackcaps (black raspberries), pawpaws, blueberries, elderberries, black walnuts, wild ginger, oyster mushrooms, morels....



 
pollinator
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I don't think I could pick "one" favorite.

I quite enjoy wild blackberries, and black caps ( a cross between blackberries and raspberries).

Thimble berries are awesome though time consuming to pick.

Wild huckleberries are delicious.

I love the crazy tart flavor of Oregon grape.

Service berries are great as they are neither too sweet or too tart though do tend to be a bit seedy.

I also quite enjoy Elderberries though the having to wait until after first frost to harvest and then having to get them picked in two to three days before the birds and wild animals eat them all doesn't allow for much of a season on those.
 
pollinator
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My favorite hands down is wild strawberry. Unfortunately most of the plants here are in too much shade and produce few berries.  I keep introducing them throughout the yard though.  

Me second favorite and most plentiful is black raspberry.  My patches came to be as an accident.  I transplanted a clump of ornamental grass from an old farm down the road about fifteen years ago that contained a single raspberry plant. From there, the birds have helped increase that plant to two individual patches.
 
pollinator
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Saskatoon berries (a.k.a. service berry) are my first, second, and third choice. Love them fresh, in jam, in sauces. We have massive wild patches that we are encouraging with char, surplus rainwater, and occasional thinning. If they receive adequate moisture, the berries are large and plentiful.

Highbush cranberries are fun in late fall after some good frosts to sweeten them up. Just follow the scent of stinky socks!

Choke cherries grow in abundance too. I find them overpowering, but our neighbours make a very nice syrup from them. I know people who use them to make wine.

We have lots of hazelnut bushes but the squirrels/birds always get them before we do.
 
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I live in NE Washington, 40 miles from Canadian border. My favorite native wild fruit to harvest and eat is Huckleberries. I love that I can sit and harvest and eat and just do some forest bathing. I enjoy them all winter in pancakes, ice cream, kombucha, jelly and syrup and in smoothies. They keep very well frozen and are easy to put away after spending a long day (or more) in the forest. Of course, while there I simply can't resist picking up a few St. John's Wort and Yarrow flowers, Fireweed and Elderberries as well -- all edible as well
 
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We are loving the mulberries and serviceberries right now in MO! Also nettles are a favorite for cooked greens and dried for tea year round.
 
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Wj Carroll wrote:Wild blackberries and blueberries, no doubt!  Blackberries are good most anywhere, but those little "buckshot" blueberries that grow on almost bare rock in the mountains are such a rare and wonderful treat.... beyond that, wild grapes, feral apples, cherries and pawpaws… and the rare gooseberry that survived eradication... mulberries sometimes and elderberries.... cedar/juniper berries.. It all grows all around me... but, blackberries are the most common and easy to find



Oh my goodness, you're naming so many delicious delights! I am sad to say that I could only recognize by sight three of those fruiting plants. I'm wondering if anyone has a favorite resource online, like a forest hikers' guide to recognizing these fruiting plants by habitat and sight at a distance.

Thanks in advance!
 
pollinator
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I think my favourite may be the black raspberry. It has its own flavour, somewhat different from regular red raspberries. I eat them raw direct from the plant. :)

Last year we foraged for rosehips. It was a royal pain getting them cleaned and ready, but we made rosehip marmalade, and it was amazing!

Crabapples were another big haul last year, and the special treat from that was crabapple vodka (basically stick crabapples in vodka and let it sit for weeks in a cool place, shaking occasionally). Highly recommended. We'd have little shots as pre-dinner aperitifs.

It's not exactly the same as "wild", but the park down the street has dozens of old apple trees, since the area I live in used to be a huge apple orchard. We go picking in the park to make apple crisps and applesauce.
 
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here in the ozarks my favorites would have to be persimmons and pawpaws! going on a creek stomping expedition to find these hillbilly bananas is a tropical adventure come fall. i look forward to it every year :)

in our 5th year living here as well we have a growing mental map of where the best fruit trees are as well. many times you'll see us pull over on the side of the road to pick up bowls of persimmons.
 
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In this area, I like cranberries both highbush and bog.  They are available long into the fall and winter when there is hardly any wild edibles.  They also pair well with meats.
 
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Many moons ago while hiking across South Africa to go and live with my folks I survived on black berries, mulberries and black currents for a day. As I said it was many moons ago, I was about 21 and still wet behind the ears. As much as I enjoyed those wild berries (growing along the side of a motorway I might add) I got greedy and kept scoffing them throughout the day when I wasn't getting a lift. Needless to say but by that evening when I finally arrived at my folks I was in agony! Still I absolutely enjoyed them at the time I was stuffing my face! 😂
 
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The pawpaw is my favorite by far!!  It's native in my area and it grows wild in the woods, and on my property where I have planted about 50 trees.  When I used to work in the city, I'd take long walks on my lunch hour and forage from the city plantings.  I used to find juneberries, hawthorn, crab apples, and acorns that way.  Nearer my home, there's a huge old persimmon tree along one of the walking trails.  It drops very high quality fruit all over the trail and most people just step on it, but I show up with a basket every year to gather some.  We have white mulberries growing everywhere as weeds, and I eat my fill of those throughout the summer.  We also have black raspberry and blackberry growing along the edges of our woods, and they're delicious if I can beat the birds to them.
 
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Tereza Okava wrote:It's not a fruit, and it's not technically native, but..... it's that time of year!!! Bamboo-shoot-hunting time!!! We were slogging through rain and mud in the jungle yesterday, and we had a heck of a dinner.




Tereza, just curious, how do you prepare and eat your bamboo?  We have a stand of bamboo in our yard left from the previous owners, but I don't know if my variety is edible or not. Is all bamboo edible?
 
Tereza Okava
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Joshua LeDuc wrote:
Tereza, just curious, how do you prepare and eat your bamboo?


Joshua, that is a topic of much debate in my family. My uncle insists that the bamboo you use to make fishing rods (a thin bamboo) is the best, but we tend to hunt the solid dark green bamboo that is thicker (about your wrist thickness). I've also had the big, big wide dark green bamboo, but that usually requires an axe to get the shoots, and the green bamboo you just twist off.
I don't THINK any bamboo is poisonous (I am, however, no expert) but some is much more bitter than others.
We pull them, the picture shows one that is just about perfect (much longer than that and they start getting woody). You peel them til you get to the tender center, discarding any parts that the knife doesn't slide through easily (like okra: if you can feel fibrous stuff, it's not worth eating). You will probably discard 80%+ of the volume, it is that much.
What is left, we slice into small pieces. That gets a soak in salt water, then a rinse, then boil for a bit (maybe 20-30 min). The water should turn yellowish. If they are still bitter, boil and rinse and discard again. I've had some where it takes a few boiling sessions to get rid of the yellow water (those big, big bamboo shoots you have to cut with the axe, especially).
After that, they can get sliced up and mixed with stuff inside dumplings or steamed buns, cooked in soup, fried up with black and red pepper and soy sauce....
October-2012-078.JPG
bamboo shoot
bamboo shoot
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