Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Isn't it Time Yet for Berry Picking?

As back-to-school shopping and registration starts back up in the next couple of weeks, it is clear summer is on its way out the door. Sad as it may be, this time of summer gets me very antsy and itching to go out and go berry picking!!!!

The previous summer's bounty of blueberries weren't so great because of some weird influx of caterpillars, which in turn killed off most blueberry blossoms. This year, however, the mosquito numbers were I'm crossing my fingers those pollinators have upped our chances of discovering a big big bounty of them berries.

Image courtesy of mrbeernhockey

As I sit here waiting and waiting for the blueberries to ripen, I am trying to find some time to arrange a family excursion to pick these salmonberries.  They are known to ripen about a month earlier than the blueberries and lingonberries in the area. I'm hoping picking these can ease my blueberry waiting. I'm also hoping the area I read about that is said to have an abundance of these bushes still have them.

These babies should also be ready for the picking:

Watermelon berries! I've only just heard of their existence here from a guide. Twisted stalk, as the plant is called, usually gets ignored. But its mild sweet flavor with a tinge of watermelon taste to it is divine.  The fam loves these! The only problem with finding watermelon berries is that you really don't find a lot of them in one place.  While berry picking, we would find one plant here, and another there, with each plant only yielding half a dozen or so berries. We just end up picking these on the side while picking blueberries.

I'm also hoping to find some of these lingonberries (low-bush cranberries). Apparently there are some nearby. I would love to try to make a lingonberry dressing (much like the stuff that is served with Swedish meatballs in Ikea?). The Riley Creek Campground in Denali is carpeted with this stuff, although they weren't ripe yet...and I'm not quite keen on driving five hours to go berry picking.

Last year, we only collected enough for a batch of pancakes and muffins (it was raining, there weren't many to begin with, and Sophie's harvest went straight into her mouth). Hoping this year will be more fruitful!

So, who wants to come berry searching/picking with me?

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