Berry season has finally arrived this summer!!! I’ve been waiting for this season since berry season last year. Finding food,… foraging for food is my passion. I grew up on a farm as a young child and picking fresh food just outside my door is ingrained in me, it is a part of who I am. I am always looking for the next delicious find.
Last year we bought our cozy little house in down town GP and immediately set out to check out the neighourhood. It was the tail end of berry season and we found in an laneway just north of us, a huge saskatoon berry bush. There weren’t many berries on it but the few we found were delicious. Just a few meters west, was a laden raspberry bush. Oh those berries were incredible and somehow more than incredible because we were picking them and they were such a find! It was like treasure! The excitement I felt was beyond what most people would ever feel for something like that, I mean after all, they are only raspberries right? You can buy those in the store for just a few bucks. Maybe it’s because it takes me back to my childhood…sort of, or maybe because I feel such serenity while picking. I relish the satisfying plunk of fruit as it hits the bottom of my pail and the sight of the level rising just fills me with glee. I feel like these bushes are so happy that I found them and know that I’m happy having found them. I feel such gratitude to the earth and to the bushes for sharing with me and providing me with such joy.
I made a mental note of this spot and have been waiting for the chance to go back and take part in the bounty. Today was that day! I set out with my little one and our pail. I did not bring my phone or anything that could be a distraction…like my dog, I remembered to wear a hat and clothes I didn’t mind getting stained with sweet juice. We walked the short distance of 2 lanes north and were so happy when we saw the beautiful ruby red saskatoons waving to us, beckoning to us, to pick and eat and be merry. My soon to be 3 year old was ecstatic and I was simply tickled pink.
We began picking, or rather I began picking and my son declared he would “just eat the ones in the bucket, okay mom?”. We picked as many of the purple jewels are we could before moving down to the raspberries. Now for those of you who do not know what a saskatoon berry is, I feel badly for you:) They look like very much like blue berries when fully ripened and before that, they look like to most perfect ruby. Honestly when I see them I dream of wearing them around my neck and on my fingers and I dream of the clothes I will have custom made in the same tones one day when I have that kind of money. They are a delight to so many senses.
The raspberries were as tantalizing as the saskatoons. The bush was so laden with fruit that many branches simply lay on the ground. I felt for that bush and picked all I could from the resting branches. It reminded me of when I was pregnant during my 7th, 8th and 9th months when moving was simply torture and I felt overripe. I remembered the relief of resting my belly on a counter top and not having to support it myself. Truly, I felt for that bush, to be so full and not be able to help yourself…it’s a good thing I went by with my pail:-D
Now a few months ago, I was doing some research on berries that grow well out here. I came across information about the honey berry and the haskap berry. They are very similar berries and by that I mean they are practically the same. One is a little bit longer than the other, while the other is quite squat. The are like blueberries being greenish on the inside and with those tiny little seeds and that beautiful intense blue on the outside. The flavour is like a tart concord grape. I was intrigued by them and bought a couple of bushes for our yard. I am hoping they produce for next year. Woo hoo, something to look forward to for next berry season;)
Last week I found an ad on the bulletin board at the local health food store advertising a U pick haskap and honey berry farm. It was too good to be true and we made plans to check it out. We set out on an absolutely blazing hot day and made it in good time. The farm was about 1 1/2 hours away. We got there and were nearly licked to death by 18 basset hounds before getting to the field. We picked for a very hot and sweaty 2 hours or so and only managed to get about 2 lbs or just under. It was a lot of hard work but fun as it was a new experience for us.
We made our way out of the field to be less enthusiastically licked by the very hot basset hounds hanging around our car. We weighed up and payed and bought a few
pre-picked pounds to make the drive worth it. I shared my find with the family from whom we buy our beef and with our neighbours and Ang’s aunty Pickle. Everyone agreed that the berries had good flavour but were perhaps too tart for fresh eating. I decided to cook mine in some fresh locally harvested honey and we had it on vanilla cake and on pancakes. Because we gave away so many, there was only 2 jars worth. We are slowly eating one jar and the other will go into the freezer for a taste of summer sometime one cold day in deep winter.