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Posts: 21
Location: la grande, or
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i'm looking to plant some berries, and i'm interested in getting away from the standard varieties, but haven't tasted the alternatives.  anybody grown/eaten gumis, aronias, josta (that will be me soon enough, i got a couple of bushes for a bargain yesterday) or autum olives, or any other ideas?  how do they taste, produce, and grow?  natrually, i was a bush that produecs gobs of delicious berries with little care, asap.  and, i'm also interested in other uses for the bush, such as medicinal usese of the leaves, bark, or root. 
 
Dave Boehnlein
Posts: 294
Location: Orcas Island, WA
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I've eaten all of those that you mentioned. Jostas are pretty good, but I personally prefer gooseberries and blackcurrents (the two plants that were hybridized to come up with Jostas).

Goumis are excellent. I imagine they load up, but the ones we have right now are still small so I'll have to wait and see.

Autumn olive in full sun tends to load up like crazy.

Here's a caution with goumi and autumn olive: if you want to grow autumn olive make sure you get SELECTED VARIETIES (garnet, cardinal, ruby, etc.). The seedlings are super astringent (in almost all cases). Goumis, however, tend to come much better from seed. The available goumi varieties are a sure bet, but my understanding is that you can probably get away with just doing seedlings for these.

Aronias are great. If you eat them underripe they will be super astringent. However, I've found that the juice makes a nice additive to pear sauce and other preserves. I even had a friend bring a five gallon bucket of them into an ice cream shop where they made "Rasp-aronia ice cream." Who wouldn't eat that Note that these are like deer candy. Also, I don't think there is much difference between the aronia selections available, but I tried a seedling for the first time this fall and it wasn't very good, so probably best to stick to a selection.

Other berry-like fruits to consider: red currants, blueberries, blue and black elderberries, white currants, Cornelian cherries, Chilean guavas (Ugni molinae), and mulberries.

Also, if you're interested in the Elaeagnaceae, look into Elaeagnus x ebbingei. Although I've never tried it, I've heard that it is excellent. I believe it requires Elaeagnus pungens as a pollenator.

Good luck!
 
Kelda Miller
Posts: 769
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that's a great run-down Dave!

I'll just add a little plug for: forest/alpine strawberries, salmonberries, thimbleberries, lots of types of huckleberries, serviceberry, american cranberry, dewberry, salal, blue/black elderberries, oregon grape (though that last one is pretty blecky alone), etc.
also: rosehips, hawthorn berries, native black gooseberry, 'squaw' currant, etc.

natives are nummy.
 
          
Posts: 21
Location: la grande, or
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what are you doing with all those natives?  i can see eating them off the bush, but they are all pretty seedy and bland?  or bitter?  I've heard Oregon grape jam is good, but I'm not inclined to make any, when i have huckle berries, or rasperries.  but I'm sure the natives are the most nutritios, so I'm interested in ideas of how to incorporate them.  i just can't imagine salal pancakes are all that tasty! 
i planted to evergreen huckleberries, and they survied, but are not thriving.  anway, i can go out and pick the natives, don't see much reason to grow them. 
it sounds like aronias and gumis.  my growing space is pretty small, so i tend to avoid things that need special treatment  such as a pollinator. 
 
Kelda Miller
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Oh yeah, if you're close enough to a place to forage for native berries, that's one thing. Like you, I'd probably plant something else. If you're in an ornamental-ish urban area, then some natives (for me) is reassuring that i'm still in the pacific northwest, and am inviting wildlife back to me.

As far as what to do with them, I've mixed oregon grape with the tastier berries for jellies. I'd like to try more though. I'd love to see more experimentation, but it's kind of chicken and egg. If we harvested bigger quantities of salal because that was the intention of growing them, then we'd figure out all sorts of tasty ways to preserve them.

I like the idea of learning which berries freeze well, or make good jams. I'd also like to see how salal pancakes do taste, especially with something fatty added like is traditional. Or dried service-berries for the morning oatmeal.

I'll report back in the autumn
 
          
Posts: 21
Location: la grande, or
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i'm thinking juicing, or at least putting thru a sieve would be a good way to use wild berries, because they are so seedy.  mash them, cook a bit, and strain.  then, preserve by hot packing in half pints, sort of like jam/jelly but no sugar, or freeze in ice cube trays (probably much safer, considering the sugar in jams helps preseve it somehow, and hot packing something like berry pulp or juice, or freezing it in icue cube trays (i'm not entirely sure hot packing something like that would be safe), and then adding it to a glass of water or a berry pie, or a hot cup of tea.  the russians do this with black currents, only they are mashed up with a bunch of sugar, and put in hot water.  but most wild berrys are so seedy, but also so high in nutrients (things like hawthorn, salal, service berrie have a a lot of bioflavinoids) and there is something special about berries and magical health properties.  huckleberries are the exception, of course, not being so seedy and they are sooooo good.  this kind of pulp would be a good vitamin c suppliment (if frozen)  when one gets a cold.  or scurvy, of course. 
 
                    
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Check out tilthproducers.org (The Future is Abundant) for a list of native northwest berries adapted to local conditions, recognized by local flora in permaculture, appreciated by local fauna in ecosystem, and naturally wild and delicious even when they are grown in a cultivated backyard. Best of all, free if you find and transplant. Check out some sites on Wildcrafting for best places to look and harvest. My favorite, the salmonberry. Went well with dried salmon, a staple of the native northwest diet that may have needed some condiments to vary the palate. Also salmonberries have some of the nutrients that helped the digestive system most efficiently maximize nutrients from dried salmon and added roughage. Delicious and a good reason to work to keep red alder around the Pacific Northwest.

Salmonberry
(R. spectabilis) is common on wet sites throughout much of the Maritime. It is especially widespread near coastal areas and in the coast ranges. Salmonberries form dense thickets under red alder in shady swamps and in moist sites along roadsides. The yellow or orange berries are generally tasty. The Native Americans ate them fresh but considered them too watery for drying. -tilthproducer.org

 
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