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Best tasting nitrogen fixing berry bush?

 
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So, there are lots to choose from, but which tastes best?
While I'm at it, which is most marketable,in case they are not the same.
I am  certainly down with variety, but with limited resources, I'd like to aim for the best, first.
I'm in zone 6, for what it's worth.
 
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i have a seedling goumi and it taste ok (sweet, sour and a little astringent) , the named varietys are suppose to be alot better (sweet scarlet, red gem)
 
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I'll put forward seaberry aka sea buckthorn.  Also, buffalo berries but they are not the greatest on their own, but for jams and pies they can be mixed with other berries
 
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I'm a big fan of Russian Olive, but to market it you would need to make it into a product like jam. It's just that tart.
 
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Nathanael Szobody wrote:I'm a big fan of Russian Olive, but to market it you would need to make it into a product like jam. It's just that tart.




Isn't Autumn Olive supposed to be a bit sweeter?  Mine were put in last summer so it'll be fall by the time I can answer that..
 
Nathanael Szobody
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Ken Zemach wrote:Isn't Autumn Olive supposed to be a bit sweeter?  Mine were put in last summer so it'll be fall by the time I can answer that..



Yes, that's what I meant!  Autumn Olive, not Russian Olive...
 
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Autumn olive makes a very tasty jelly.  It is also good as  autumn olive/apple jelly or mixed with any other berry.
 
William Bronson
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Autumn olive is sweet/tart then?
Should it make a good beverage?
 
Nathanael Szobody
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William Bronson wrote:Autumn olive is sweet/tart then?
Should it make a good beverage?



I would think it would be a fantastic beverage. Super tart but sweeter then say lemon. Still, for a popular pallet I would think you would need to add sugar.
 
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You'd have to give it a new name too. "Olive juice" just doesn't sound appealing!
 
Walt Chase
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William Bronson wrote:Autumn olive is sweet/tart then?
Should it make a good beverage?



And astringent.  Needs LOTS of sugar and/or mixed with the juice of another fruit.  That said I like the flavor.  
 
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I give a big double thumbs-up to goumi.  I have in fact become something of an evangelist for goumi.  I've been so satisfied with them in my own food forest that they are always one of the first species I suggest for people in my area (zone 7-8, Southern Appalachian foothills).  Attractive enough to be an ornamental (except perhaps for the occasional thorn), fast growing, non-invasive (unlike some of the other members of their genus), and so very productive.  I've known them to shrug off droughts and otherwise to be virtually indestructible: I've had dozens of goumi for 6 or 7 years now, and have barely lost a one for any reason.  In fact, I don't think I've ever seen a goumi leaf with a bite out of it.

Now I have only the common named cultivars, so I can't comment on what the seedlings might taste like, but mine are tasty as hell.  Very sweet if you pick them at the peak of ripeness.  Still very flavorful, if tart, when you're impatient and pick them sooner.

Elaeagnus multiflora!  Accept no substitutes.
 
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I'm new to berry plants being legumes.   Really? Or only some? Very few, I'd think. Maybe legumes aren't the only nitrogen fixers out there?

I got seabuckthorn seeds stratifying in the fridge. Should I have inoculated them first, as we do with peas and beans?
 
Matthew Nistico
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Nick Dimitri wrote:I'm new to berry plants being legumes.   Really? Or only some? Very few, I'd think. Maybe legumes aren't the only nitrogen fixers out there?

I got seabuckthorn seeds stratifying in the fridge. Should I have inoculated them first, as we do with peas and beans?


The majority of N-fixers are legumes, but not all.  My goumi and your seabuckthorns are both examples of the non-leguminous varieties.  As for inoculating them, you could still do so before planting them; they just need it before getting into the soil.  Honestly I'm not sure if standard pea/bean/clover inoculant will do anything to help them, but it also probably can't hurt.  Inoculation is a great boost up, but it shouldn't technically be necessary; most needed bugs are already in the soil, even if it takes longer for them to establish a strong colony on your roots.  I didn't inoculate any of my goumi, and they are thriving nonetheless.  Then again, they may have been inoculated at the nursery.

I will be curious to see if someone more knowledgeable than myself can clarify about non-legume inoculation practices.
 
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I was thinking of planting Sea Buckthorn on my Southern slope, but people say it doesn't do that well in Texas, it's too hot. I think the only Nitrogen fixer I can bet on is acacia, but it's not edible, I don't think.
 
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They have a different type of nitrogen-fixing bacteria on the nodules of their roots.  Alder has yet another.

I love goumi and autumn olive.  Sometimes I put autumn olive berries on grains or salads.  I also one called silverberry, which isn't quite as good, but I'm eating it now (April and May) and it's evergreen.

John S
PDX OR

 
William Bronson
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Thanks for the feedback,keep it coming!
I'm interested in a juice business.
My ten year old girl wants to sell at the farmers market,and homemade natural beverages would be a hit.
She will be 14 before we have enough homegrown  anything to sell, but I'm planning for my "retirement" as well.

Silverberry is kind of the reason for my query in the first place!
It ticks so many boxes, he'll I could grow it in my front yard with none the wiser, but I wasn't sure about taste.
I have plenty of fodder options, so growing any food just for the animals is sub par to say the least.

So, some more questions:
Of the nitrogen fixing berries, which are good dried?
Which would you add to a smoothy?
Which produce the most juice (I think some of them are described as "mealie" )
Juicing tends to produce a lot of pulp.
Do any of these berries seem suitable for fruit leather?
Do any have edible leaves?

Culinary use aside, do any stand out for other reasons,such as ease of cultivation or propagation?

 
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I'm sorry to say, I don't much like the sea buckthorn or russian olive berries that we get here. And I'm an avid wild food eater, and I like bitter foods and weird foods.

The sea buckthorn is soooo sour, that to make it palatable even as a tart drink, you have to add a huge amount of sugar. I've seen people here on permies say they liked their sea buckthorn berries though, so maybe our variety is much sourer than what you get in the US. It's native here. Also, it has such vicious thorns, oh my goddess! It's hard to collect for that reason. We lay tarps underneath the bushes and then whack them with sticks. We dry them and then the following summer, soak and sugar them for juice. When fresh, I eat one at a time for such a sour rush it makes a shiver up the spine. (and I like fairly sour foods)

The russian olive berries here don't ripen to orange or red, only cream color or yellowish. I know kids here who say they like to eat them, but I find them unpleasantly astringent in the mouth. It's native here too. I like the tree though. It is grown here as an ornamental for the extravagantly fragrant flowers every June. The tree reaches about 30 feet here, and it pollards nicely (you can whack it off at chest height and it will sprout vigorously). The wood is extremely dense, and looks like it would make an attractive heavy-grained polished surface, kind of as if it were two-toned oak.

Both of them are nitrogen fixers though they are not legumes. They grow well in our desert climate, with inadequate irrigation, and cold winters. I have not tasted autumn olive but I hear it tastes better.
 
John Suavecito
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Silver berry has kind of chewable seed inside it. It's not very juicy. I don't recommend it for juice. One other thing about it-it has an unbelievable fragrance! The daphne of the autumn.  The main thing about the berry is it's the only berry I can harvest in April.  Also evergreen.  I don't know about it's hardiness.

Autumn olive berries are very small-like huckleberries.  Like wild blueberries instead of selected varieties.  They could be great in a smoothie. They grow easily from cuttings and are invasive back East.

Goumi is less juicy but larger. For some reason when we dried them they got moths and bug in them. Can also be put into casseroles, salads, etc.

Sea berries are very flavorful, but I think everyone drinks them in a mix. It doesn't have to be with sugar. It could be with water and another juice.   I like one, but like Rebecca said, they are very powerful. That's how I eat European black currant-one flavorful small berry.  

John S
PDX OR
 
Tatiana Trunilina
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Sea Buckthorn juice is mixed with water and sugar (or honey for the less processed version), you never drink it straight up! I believe it can even hurt the stomach lining like straight lemon juice. You juice it and store the juice in the fridge, and to make beverage you mix it with water and sweetener and voila, a delicious somewhat tart and very good for you drink. You can even freeze the undiluted juice, or make popsicles out of the diluted sweetened juice for long term storage.
 
Matthew Nistico
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Goumi (like the other silverberry species) does indeed have a single large seed per berry.  It is edible, being chewable, and I've read that it's actually very nutritious, but it is also fibrous and in my opinion doesn't enhance the flavor of the berries.  I usually either spit out or swallow hole.

I'm not sure about juicing them, but Goumi would certainly make excellent jam or pie filling.  For these uses, though, you'd have to boil up a large batch of berries and either pass them through a food mill or press them through a strainer in order to separate the pulp from the seeds.  Doable, but an extra step.  I once tried baking a pie with whole berries, thinking that the cooking would soften up the seeds.  It didn't, and I couldn't get over the sensation of a mouthful of seeds with each bite.

So, this Spring I have taken to occasionally making breakfast smoothies with fresh fruit and weed greens from my yard.  I even have a bunch of goose grass and purple deadnettle pre-measured, shrink-wrapped, and stored in my freezer so I can continue the practice throughout the year; I currently buy the fruit from the store.  I also like to make excellent fritters with the goose grass!  But I digress...  since then, I've had a flash of inspiration: I am betting that whole, frozen goumi berries would be a great smoothie addition!  So long as I blend them thoroughly, the seeds should liquefy and thus no longer pose a problem!  I will be sure to report back on the results this season once I've actually tried this.  My own berries are due in at the end of this month.

BTW, John made two excellent points above: 1) a plus of goumi is the early harvest, whereas some other elaeagnus species are autumn harvest, when one often has a lot of tree fruits coming in at the same time; and 2) they aren't really too juicy.  Somewhat juicy, but I think it would be less about "juicing" them and more about boiling them up with lots of water and then blending and straining the result.  That's just a guess, though.
 
William Bronson
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I would actually like to use a steam juicer, which should work great with what you describe of Goumi.
The early fruit means a lot as well.
The freezing of fruit, syrup, juice, pulp, etc is part of the plan.
While not low tech, freezing food is amazingly efficient, and probably the easiest way to preserve food.
An acquaintance is selling frozen quarts of soup at market.
Fresh frozen juices are similar.
I even know a beekeeper, to keep the sweetening local.
He is also doing vinegar from spent brewing grain.
Shrubs anyone?
I'm aiming at making the fruit heavy food forest model pay for my family.
A highly nutritious "waste" product like the Goumi seed sound perfect for chicken feed, if not human.
 
Matthew Nistico
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Steam juicer, eh?  That's a new one on me.
 
John Suavecito
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Just to clarify, in my semi-normal kind of zone 8 Northern climate, silver berry eleagnus ebbingei x is REALLY early (April and May) and has a very big chewable seed.

Goumi is early (June here) and has a moderately sized chewable seed.

John S
PDX OR
 
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Any berry bush will accumulate nitrogen if you allow birds to do their thing. The more you give to them, the more nitrogen and other high quality nutrients they will trade. They have pretty much one-in, one-out digestive systems and trade nitrogen rich manure for the goodies in the fruit. Having tall fruit trees at the top of your property will passively fertilize downstream.
 
Matthew Nistico
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Ben Zumeta wrote:Any berry bush will accumulate nitrogen if you allow birds to do their thing. The more you give to them, the more nitrogen and other high quality nutrients they will trade. They have pretty much one-in, one-out digestive systems and trade nitrogen rich manure for the goodies in the fruit. Having tall fruit trees at the top of your property will passively fertilize downstream.


Excellent point!  : )
 
John Suavecito
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THey are kings of phosphorus as well. We are nearing peak phosphorus.  The guano mines off the islands of S. America have made a few into zillionaires, but they are all mined out. Phosphorus is getting very expensive very quickly.  While they are at it, they eat mosquitos, apple maggots, and codling moth..  Some people even like to hear their song, and think they're pretty.
John S
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Sea buckthorn!
I even had some really fancy chocolates with sea buckthorn and green tea filling.
I think it strongly depends on cultivar, I had some in Norway that I lovedddddd
 
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After reading all the suggestions and use for the berries, I suggest considering fruit leather as an option in addition to jam and juices... it's a great output for small berries that don't give much juice (and are often full of pectine).
This way, you can circumvent the tart / sourness by mixing with other fruits (and possibly add a bit of sugar).
 
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I think autumn olive is wonderful......BUT, you have to give them time to ripen. i.e...translocate the sugar to the berries.  I knew a newbie who made something with them in late August. Whew!  Astringent.  They ripen here in the Ozarks in mid-September.  Also, different bushes taste better or worse, so sample several.  The jam made with them is WONDERFUL, on addition to being full of lycopene.  I did make fruit leather and it also was delicious.  You'd have to practice with the juice thing a bit.  There is not much 'juice', just pulp.  I can't remember if I added water, but then I heated it all and then put thru a food processor to get the seeds out for jam.  I eat the seeds when I am just eating raw fruit.

For anyone else who is wanting to use autumn olives, google 'autumn olive recipes'.   There is one for autumn olive ketchup that I've been wanting to try.  When it's still pretty warm in September I can sit down and eat a bowl full of autumn olives just like popcorn!  They have just the right amount of tartness and astringency to quench thirst.

Just remember, they ARE invasive!  I wouldn't plant them but there is an intersection down the road where they are everywhere, so I just go and pick when we have a good crop.
 
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I love my goumi.  They are quite tart, have a big seed and don't keep well.  But they are great for munching for a few weeks in the garden and they are always a hit at farmer's market because no one else has them.  Seaberry are sooo hard to pick.  But they juice well.  Then I freeze them into cubes and add one cube to a big thermos of tea.  Kinda like adding lemon.  
 
Cris Fellows
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Seaberry and goumi.
20201127_092050_HDR-3.jpg
seaberry-sea-buckthorn-Hippophae-rhamnoides-berry
Message_1593199797946-2.jpg
Elaeagnus-multiflora-Goumi-berry
 
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I haven't seen any posts on this thread mentioning goji berry yet.  I started some of these from seed and am looking forward to adding them to some of my guilds.  Does anybody have an opinion on goji's?
 
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I live in zone 6 WV, have not tried seaberry (apparently invasive) but have a pair of goumis--Red Gem and Sweet Scarlet. I also have autumn/Russian olive in the periphery where i have not yet succeeded in eradicating them. I say, if you don't already have one of these two DON'T PLANT THEM. They're incredibly invasive and hard to get rid of, worse than multifloras--you have to dig up every bit of root so it usually takes a couple or a few years to completely eradicate one. And if you don't--your whole holler or stream bank will eventually be nothing but. The goumis are a relative, which also fix nitrogen and have tasty nutritious fruit, but are not invasive, and the fruit is much bigger. Like their invasive cousins, they have silvery undersides to the leaves, very pretty in a breeze, and fragrant flowers in April here. Mine fruit in late June. And easy care? What you have to do for them is 1--plant them and 2--harvest the fruit once a year. It does help to prune them in early spring, to make the harvesting easier as they grow densely and have thorns. The thorns are large and sparse and dull, so they aren't a big problem in harvesting. The downside is the pit in the middle of each berry. Some people like them straight and spit out the pits; I mostly steam and strain them, then turn the juice into syrup. I freeze the syrup, to use on certain kinds of ice cream and to mix with other berries in jam. They are very tart but also have a lot of sweetness and I don't notice any astringency unless you pick them unripe. I don't know as they'd make a good cash crop though--i don't think they'd lend themselves to machine picking. I kindof enjoy picking them over a couple of days--except there are always birds on the other side of the bush, I hear them startling and flying away, and i never manage to catch a glimpse to see who is harvesting besides me! I don't mind that they take some, I just would like to spot the birds.
 
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Tatiana Trunilina wrote:I was thinking of planting Sea Buckthorn on my Southern slope, but people say it doesn't do that well in Texas, it's too hot. I think the only Nitrogen fixer I can bet on is acacia, but it's not edible, I don't think.



I realize you made this comment 3 years ago, but what about Huaje/Guaje?

https://specialtyproduce.com/produce/Guaje_8383.php#:~:text=Guaje%2C%20pronounced%20(GWA%2Dheh,White%20Popinac%20and%20Wild%20Tamarind.

It's an acquired taste for sure, but cattle, goats, and sheep like the green pods as well.
And it's really great if you are looking for a chop and drop plant, Geoff Lawton has introduced it to Jordon, and it is definitely something that will grow on southern slops in Texas. It also tends to branch in nice Y shapes if you are looking to for posts to hold up light weight roofs or structures for vining plants.
 
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The Persian food market near here sells autumn olive dried in little boxes.  I think it was 3$ for a box about two cups, but I can't remember.  Girlfriend hated them, I enjoyed eating them but they're a bit dry.  Then I sort of started craving them.  

I have never seen them in other stores, but if you have an Iranian/Persian store, or maybe other middle-Eastern stores you might price them.

I don't actually know if they really dried them or if they just are about that dry off the plant, since when I ate some off a plant it had almost the same texture and moisture.  The label was not very informative, but if you want I can ask the shopkeeper, or you could probably call them up, "Super Vanak."

I think finding a way to pick fast would be important--stripping your hand along the stem seems to work for a lot of things, but if these have thorns then you'd have to wear gloves (in summer--blech).  Maybe shaking or whacking? maybe a U-pick situation?  

Goumi sounds like it would be a better choice in many ways and of course gummy bears are derived from them, so the fruit leather idea is solid, and making them into cute shapes could be a value-add.  

Cornelian cherry was also sold at that store, way more sour than autumn olive and yet apparently there are people who buy that.  It's just a matter of finding the market, which may recent immigrants or food explorers.

Licorice isn't a berry bush but ticks some other boxes.
 
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Tatiana Trunilina wrote:I was thinking of planting Sea Buckthorn on my Southern slope, but people say it doesn't do that well in Texas, it's too hot. I think the only Nitrogen fixer I can bet on is acacia, but it's not edible, I don't think.



Fellow Texan here. Heck with the Buckthorn! There is a variety of Mesquite that is a nitrogen fixer and you and I know Mesquite is well adapted to Texas, fact it can be an obnoxious weed if left unchecked. :) Great for smoking meats.

Cultured Mesquite
 
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Joshua LeDuc wrote:I haven't seen any posts on this thread mentioning goji berry yet.  I started some of these from seed and am looking forward to adding them to some of my guilds.  Does anybody have an opinion on goji's?

There seems to be two different plants whose fruits are called "goji" and the one I have is definitely *not* a nitrogen-fixer. However it is a plant that doesn't require much nitrogen - and I read somewhere that it actually doesn't like additional nitrogen fertilizer. Unfortunately, my goji wasn't happy in either of the places I planted it and I suspect it didn't make it through this winter. I liked the fruit myself - what little I got.
 
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Walt Chase wrote:Autumn olive makes a very tasty jelly.  It is also good as  autumn olive/apple jelly or mixed with any other berry.



PLEASE people,

Do NOT plant Autumn Olive. Sure, the berries make good jam but THIS PLANT IS A HORRIBLE INVASIVE! Permaculture should mean that we respect and protect the natural environment. There is no way to prevent uncontrolled spread of this plant such that it crowds out native shrubs to the ultimate harm of not only our open land but forests, meadows, and all the pollinators, birds, and mammals, etc that depend upon that environment.

There are plenty of non-invasive berries, both native and non-native, that will serve your purposes. Among natives, Blueberries, cranberries, serviceberries (Amelanchier spp) black raspberries, red raspberries, blackberries, etc.
Among safe non-natives, bush cherries, currants, gooseberries, all easy to grow and super hardy.

Thanks for caring for the Earth!
 
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