Monthly Archives: November 2015

Anybody for a pi pie?

This certainly would be a fun way to serve berry pie! Pi Pie

Berry Cultivation In Norway

This is a short presentation from http://www.bioforsk.no that shows some interesting berry research with cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus) , crowberry (Empetrum nigrum),  and lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea)  Berry Cultivation Norway

Watermelon berries

Watermelon berries (Streptopus amplexifolius) are delicious and juicy, with a mild flavor. The stalk of the plant can also be eaten and has a flavor similar to cucumber. Although it has been a traditional food in its native range, I am not aware that it has ever been commercially harvested. It may be due to its preference for shady, wetter areas, or possibly because it is difficult to grow from seed.

This plant is known to grow across the circumpolar north. In Alaska it is more abundant south of the Alaska range, but I have observed it at Manley Hot Springs and have heard that it survives transplant into Fairbanks gardens.

There is a publication from UAF Cooperative Extension Service that describes how to identify and utilize the plant. Learn more about how to propagate watermelon berries at this site.

Bog cranberry

Wandering through sphagnum bogs during the fall in Alaska you can often find bog cranberries (Vaccinium oxycoccos). Although the berries are typically not abundant, they are a tasty treat and wonderful addition to a berry mix. The berries are not commercially utilized in the US, but are a commodity in Russia.

Learn more about bog cranberries at this site from the USFS.

Sea buckthorn – it grows here!

Sea buckthorn is a plant that is being talked about more and more in Alaska. Native to northern latitudes of Europe and Asia, it would seem this plant would be well-suited to Alaska. Canadian researchers are already looking into developing sea buckthorn as a crop, as they have for saskatoon serviceberries and honeyberries.

Alaskans are making progress on this plant too! Papa M. is growing sea buckthorn in North Pole, AK. He has some older shrubs that are over 10 feet tall and produce gallons of gorgeous orange berries. Papa sells sexed seedlings (which is extremely important for dioecious species such as sea buckthorn) from productive lines every summer at the Tanana Valley Farmers Market or direct from his farm.

Learn more about how to grow the plants here:

Sea buckthorn Special Crops Factsheet

Sea buckthorn Production Guide

Juniper for Gin

Juniper “berries” are one of the main botanicals that give gin its distinctive flavor. The berries of juniper are actually cones that have modified scales giving it a smooth, berry-like appearance. There are many types of juniper, but common juniper (Juniperus communis) is the species most often used for flavoring gin. Have you ever wondered how your favorite gin companies harvest juniper? According to this site, the best juniper is still harvested from wild trees. There is a short video in the middle of the page that shows harvesters in action.

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup Today I was lucky enough to take a workshop at the Eagle River Nature Center presented by Chief Naturalist Ute Olsson.  She covered a lot of ground.  The ERNC calendar is here with a brief description of the workshop: Workshop announcement.  In the workshop we made elderberry syrup.   Elderberries are highly regarding for their nutraceutical properties.  The workshop presented a recipe found on Wellness Mamas website which can be found here: Elderberry Syrup.  The dried elderberries we used were actually quite tasty on their own and had a chocolate hint to them.