Several Alaska researchers studied the vegetation along the Dalton Highway in moist-acidic tussock-tundra in 2006. The pH of the roadside that is annually covered in fine dust from the road, increased over time from 4 to 6. . The amount of grasses did, too as well as cloudberry, Rubus chamaemorus. The fine dust may be adding a bit of fertilizer to the roadsides. It is not surprising that grasses increase especially on disturbed sites, but cloudberries are a surprise. I wonder if berry yield also increases or if it is just vegetation.
Here is a nice news article about a jam and jelly business in Ketchikan.
Ketchikan Jelly and Jam
Researchers Drs. Danny Barney and Kim Hummer conducted variety trials on on-native Alaska blueberries in cooperation with Alaska Berries of Kenai. It has been difficult to find any non-native blueberry that is consistently hardy in Alaska to make it worth growing commercially. Their abstract is below. The full article is available at the Journal of the American Pomological Society 66(3):145-152. 2012. Research at UAF also conducted hardiness trials of these cultivars in Fairbanks. In fact, many species and cultivars have been tested over the years since Gold Rush Days. None survived above the snow line. You can get a handful of berries on the stems protected y snow, but all branches were killed above the snow line. It does hint that heavy mulching or microclimate manipulation might improve survival, but when our wild blueberries are so abundant and delicious, why bother?
Abstract: Home and commercial cultivation of small fruits is popular in Alaska and blueberries of several species, such as V. corymbosum and V. angustifolium, have potential as cultivated crops for local production. In June 2009, we established blueberry plantings in two locations on the Kenai Peninsula, approximately 106 kilometers southwest of Anchorage, Alaska. Our objectives were to compare effects of location and cultivar for three northern highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) and six half-high (V. corymbosum Å~ V. angustifolium) blueberry cultivars on plant survival, fall tip dieback, winter injury, yield and fruit weight. Severe winter injury and some mortality were observed by June 2011. At both locations, highbush cultivars ‘Duke’, ‘Earliblue’, and ‘Patriot’, and the half-high cultivars ‘Chippewa’ and ‘Northland’ had severe fall tip dieback and winter injury. These five cultivars are not recommended for Southcentral Alaska, although ‘Patriot’ produced a few large ripe fruit in 2011. The remaining half-high cultivars survived well and produced yields in 2011. ‘Northblue’ and ‘Northsky’ ripened first, followed by ‘Northcountry’ and ‘Polaris’. Fruit was harvested three times in September 2011. ‘Northblue’ yield was 0.25 kg·plant-1 (2-years post-establishment) and mean berry size was 1.98 g·berry-1. Yields for ‘Northcountry’, ‘Northsky’, ‘Polaris’, and ‘Patriot’ were 0.09, 0.18, 0.05, and 0.02 kg·plant-1, respectively. Berry weights were 0.66, 0.88, and 1.50 g·berry-1 for ‘Northcountry’, ‘Northsky’, and Polaris’, respectively. Berry weights were not determined for ‘Patriot’. Based on our initial observations, given appropriate cultivar selection and plant management, half-high blueberry production on the Kenai Peninsula appears feasible for home and small-acreages. Snow-catch strategies for winter protection and tunnels for season extension are recommended.
A new agriculture consumer magazine has come to town,the first edition of Edible Alaska were in readers hands summer 2016 ! I was doing my usual quick thumb thru when I was handed my personal copy while I walked thru AG Day 2016 @Palmer Experiment Farm when I came upon the article, Shrub A new Twist on an Old Tradition by Evie Witten.
What the heck is shrub you say?? Well according to Wikipedia in terms of mixed drinks, shrub is the name of two different, but related, acidulated beverages. One type of shrub is a fruit liqueur that was popular in 17th and 18th century England, typically made with rum or brandy mixed with sugar and the juice or rinds of citrus fruit.
The word “shrub” can also refer to a cocktail or soft drink that was popular during America’s colonial era, made by mixing a vinegared syrup with spirits, water, or carbonated water. The term “shrub” can also be applied to the sweetened vinegar-based syrup, from which the cocktail is made; the syrup is also known as drinking vinegar. Drinking vinegar is often infused with fruit juice, herbs and spices for use in mixed drinks
The history of Shrub is early English version of the shrub arose from the medicinal cordials of the 15th century.The drink gained popularity among smugglers in the 1680s trying to avoid paying import taxes for goods shipped from mainland Europe: To avoid detection, smugglers would sometimes sink barrels of spirits off-shore to be retrieved later; the addition of fruit flavours aided in masking the taste of alcohol fouled by sea water.As a mixture of fruit and alcohol, the shrub is related to the punch, however punches were normally served immediately after mixing the ingredients, whereas shrubs tended to have a higher concentration of flavour and sugar and could be stored for later use, much like a pre-made drink mixer.The shrub was itself a common ingredient in punches, either on its own or as a simple mix with brandy or rum. It was also served during the Christmas season mixed with raisins, honey, lemon, sherry, rum and other spirits.The shrub was sold in most public houses throughout England in the 17th and 18th centuries, although the drink fell out of fashion by the late 1800s.
The American version of the shrub has its origins in 17th century England where vinegar was used as an alternative to citrus juices in the preservation of berries and other fruits for the off-season. Fruit preserves made in this fashion were themselves known as shrubs and the practice carried over to colonial America.By the 19th century, typical American recipes for shrubs used vinegar poured over fruit—traditionally berries—which was left to infuse anywhere from overnight up to several days; afterwards, the fruit would be strained out and the remaining liquid would be mixed with a sweetener such as sugar or honey and then reduced to make a syrup.The sweet-and-sour syrup could be mixed with either water or soda water and served as a soft drink, or it could be used as a mixer in alcoholic cocktails.Shrubs eventually fell out of popularity with the advent of home refrigeration.
The serving of vinegar-based shrub drinks became popular again in 2011 and 2012 in American restaurants and bars. The trend has also been noted in bars in Canada as well as London. The acidity of the shrub makes it well suited as anapéritif or used as an alternative to bitters in cocktails. Unlike cocktails acidulated with citrus, vinegar-based drinks will remain clear when shaken.
The reference materials listed at the end were interesting reads for sure, but back to the article in my new magazine edible Alaska that started this blog post. Shrub A new Twist on an Old Tradition by Evie Witten. Helen Howarth of Fromagio’s Artisan cheese in Anchorage is bringing this refreshing drink to the local consumers but she shares a recipe how easy its a DIY 3 ingredient start to deliciousness. 1pound of fruits or vegetables,3/4 cup sugar, 314 cup vinegar; chop the fruit or vegetables, place in a bowl with sugar and macerate. cover bowl, refrigerate for a few days, then pour off the juice and add any type of vinegar. shore in corked or closed jar.
Plus as its mentioned making shrubs allows you to use the whole harvest of not just fruits but also crab apples, rhubarb. carrots, herbs, ginger, and many endless more choices.
Cannot wait to experiment with all the new combinations from local freshly harvested produce with a new preserving method. R from Mat-Su Valley
edible Alaska Magazine summer 2016 No. 1, Shrub A new Twist on an Old Tradition by Evie Witten, pg 38
document talks about how to grow berries in peatlands after peat extraction. It includes most of the acid-loving berries such as blueberries and cranberries. It is a nice reference for growing berries!
Peatland Ecology Research Group. 2009. Production of Berries in Peatlands. Available online: http://www.gret-perg.ulaval.ca/uploads/tx_centrerecherche/GUIDE_Berries_en_2009_01.pdf. Accessed 17 Oct 2016.
The Cornell Cooperative Extensions Berry Diagnostic Tool is an excellent resource for anyone growing or interested in strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, currants, and gooseberries. This online tool allows anyone to select a berry crop and then from a variety of descriptions of plant growth issues, deformities, discolorations, damage, or other indicator that occurs on the whole plant, flower, fruit, or vegetative to continue to diagnose the issue. Lots of photographs and links to in depth articles are included about many diagnoses to really get to the “root” of the issue. Finally, recommendations for management of the issue can be selected after referring to the images and descriptions
Citation: Cornell Cooperative Extension. 2016. Cornell Fruit Berry Diagnostic Tool. Available online: Diagnosis. Accessed: 12 October 201
Fruit Soup Recipe
2 cups dry red wine 1 cup water ; 2/3 cup sugar ; 2 whole star anise ; 2 cinnamon sticks; 1 (12-ounce) basket fresh strawberries, hulled, sliced; 1 (6-ounce) basket fresh raspberries; 1 (4.4-ounce) basket fresh blueberries; 1 pint vanilla bean gelato or ice cream
Directions: Combine the wine, water, sugar, star anise, and cinnamon sticks in a heavy large saucepan. Add all but 1/2 cup of each of the berries. Bring the liquids to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently until the fruit is very tender, about 10 minutes. Cool slightly. Discard the star anise and cinnamon sticks. Transfer the berry mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer and into a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, stirring occasionally, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day ahead. Cut the reserved strawberries into small pieces. Place a small scoop of vanilla bean gelato or ice cream in the center of 8 decorative dessert glasses or soup bowls. Divide the mixed berry soup among the glasses, being careful to pour around the gelato. Sprinkle the reserved berries over the soup and serve immediately. Thank you to Giada De Laurentiis for a delicious mixed berry soup with gelato recipe. Doing research on berry information is when I learned that people really do make soup from berries. You can heat it up and use it as a topping or throw some whipped cream on it for a cold topping. Sounds delicious! AK Fairbanks