Category Archives: Blueberries (Vaccinium)

Documenting Change in Nunavut

Here is a thesis that explores climate change through berries near Kugluktuk, Nunavut, Canada. The program is part citizen science as well as documenting the ethnobotany of the region. It includes great summaries of the most important berries and even some recipes!

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Cornell Berry Diagnostics

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 Soups

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

Bog Blueberries for Health

“Bog Blueberry anthocyanins alleviate photo-aging in UV B irradiation-induced human dermal fibroblasts.”

The fruits of the bog blueberry plant are rich in anthocyanins that contribute pigmentation and the relief/prevention of several chronic diseases. Several studies show bog blueberries remarkably suppress collagen degradation as well as inflammatory response in the skin cells which allow for connective tissue and healing/recovery after injury. The edible berry shows proof it can be protective against skin damage!
Bae, J.-Y., Choi, J.-S., Han, S.J., Ju, S.M., Kang, I.-J., Kang, Y.-H., Kim, S.J., Lim, S.S., Park, J. 2009. “Bog Blueberry Anthocyanins Alleviate Photo-Aging in Ultra-Violet B Irradiation-Induced Human Dermal Fibroblasts.” Molecular Nutrition and Food Research 53(6): 726-738.

Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake

Every year around October my church conducts a pie auction fundraiser. While this isn’t exactly a pie, it still sold for over $100, which means you can take the whole thing home! You won’t want to share! This recipe is taken from the Taste of Home Annual Cookbook, 2003 Edition. CM Fairbanks
Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake
1 packaged (12 ounces) frozen blueberries, thawed
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon water
1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
CRUST:
1-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
FILLING:
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
3 eggs
¼ cup lemon juice
In a food processor or blender, process the blueberries, sugar, water and cornstarch until blended. Transfer to a heavy saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes or until thickened. Set aside 6 tablespoons for filling. Refrigerate the remaining sauce for topping. Combine crust ingredients. Press onto the bottom of a greased 9-in. springform pan; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and milk until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low just until combined. Add lemon juice; beat just until blended. Pour half of the filling over crust; top with half of the reserved blueberry sauce. Repeat layers. Cut through filling with a knife to swirl blueberry sauce. Place pan on a baking sheet.

Blueberry variation

Learning about how much variation there is in bog blueberries in Dr. Pat Holloway’s class makes me realize that perhaps that is partly why I’m attracted to them. If each bush and cluster of berries were the same, it wouldn’t be nearly as exciting to pick blueberries. For instance, bunchberries, while also not quite as tasty, they don’t seem to have near the variability of blueberries. All the plants are about as high, and the berries seem to be very similar in size. HR Fairbanks

MARTA HEACOCK The Landscape of Red Huckleberry and Fireweed Syrup

 This story appeared first in Alaska Women Speak  journal  24(3):11. Fall 2016  (www.alaskawomenspeak.org)   and is reprinted by permission of the author. Marta lives and writes from a small village located in the southern portion of Alaska’s Alexander Archipelago. She owns a salmon cannery with her son and shares her. home with a Pomeranian and a tabby cat. 

Red huckleberries sparkle through the deep woods in glints of orange and near-red. As rain forest understory plants, they scramble under the great coniferous trees of the Tongass. In spring, the plants are covered in light gold to pale pink blossoms. The young berries shine with the pale orange of a rain forest sunset in May.

When they’re at their peak of ripeness, the berries are the color of sockeye eggs. Red huckleberries are feral plants that don’t respond well to attempts at commercial cultivation, though Indigenous peoples have long used them for a variety of purposes. They can be eaten fresh, dried, preserved, fermented, made into syrups and sauces, or combined with salmon eggs and seal oil to create a delicacy for winter feasts. They’re sometimes used as bait in place of salmon eggs.

Red huckleberries are tart. Some people find them too tangy to be eaten raw, while others love the way they pop right inside their mouths with little explosions of juice. They get their tang from the highly acidic, rich rain forest soils in which they thrive. As with all berries, they become sweeter with age, so if you don’t like the acid tang, look for the larger berries that are more red than orange.

Get the berries in the middle of the summer from the woods. If you follow a small salmon spawning creek long enough, you’ll come to a patch of red huckleberries. Be sure to go with friends, and sing your songs and tell your stories to let the bears know you’re there so they can sink into the woods. Bring the berries home and roll them through your hands on a flat surface to remove the stems, and shake them in a sieve so the stems fall through.

The red huckleberries were ripe this year just when the fi.reweed was at its brightest. Fireweed grows in meadows around the edges of the forest, by the side of the road, and generally everywhere and anywhere where there’s an extra patch of dirt that’s not already being used, as long as it gets a reasonable amount of sun. Beekeepers meadows to get delicate fireweed honey. Beekeepers often place hives in the middle of vast fireweed meadows to get delicate fireweed honey.

Even though you won’t find fireweed growing in the deep forest alongside the wild red huckleberries, the two combine to create a flavor palette that captures the taste of the Tongass. Fireweed honey is soft and sweet, providing the perfect foil for the impudent tang of the red huckleberries. You can mix red huckleberries with fireweed honey to make syrup for pancakes, French toast, to use as ice cream toppings or to make craft cocktails .

. . . a flavor palette that captures the taste of the Tongass. 

First, heat the berries over a low flame with a little water. The berries need to soften so they can be properly mashed, and then strain them for the juice. Add fi.reweed honey to the juice, bring to a boil, and simmer until reduced by about half or when the mixture begins to stick to a wooden spoon.

If your berries came from a patch growing on and near rotting logs, their acidic bite may be more pronounced, so you’ll need to add more honey. The same thing applies if you were impatient for your huckleberries and picked them before they were quite ripe. Keep adding honey a little at a time until you find your personal sweet spot. Some people like to add a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice, but a bit of orange juice actually works better with this particular flavor profile because it’s not so tart. You might think about a fast dash of cinnamon and teardrop-sized splash of real vanilla

The syrup can be used right away, but letting it sit for a week or tvvo ensures that the flavors mix and settle. Even though you might be tempted to use it all, try to save some for late fall and winter when the storms are at their worst and the days are dark and gloomy. Few things are better the morning after a Southeastern Alaska storm than sourdough pancakes drizzled with a taste of the Tongass summer.