The attached link is an article written by Kevin Jernigan, Olga S. Belichenko, Valeria B. Kolosova and Darlene J. Orr that compares uses of plants including berries from the past through elder recollections compared to present uses. They also compared usage with communities in Nome and Kotzebue. Edible plant use has dropped overall from previous years (13%) but the awareness of medicinal uses has skyrocketed (+225%) no doubt because of the interest in antioxidants and other bioactive components. I completed a similar project in the mid 1990s in Ft. Yukon, Alaska and found about a 20% drop in native plant uses, but my project was before all the interest in antioxidants.
Some of the plants whose use had actually increased include: wild chives (Allium schoenoprasum), tilsey sage (Artemisia tilesii), crowberry (Empetrum nigrum), blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), river beauty (Epilobium (Camerion) latifolium, mountain sorrel (Oxyria digyna), sour dock, (Rumex arcticus), and cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus). The plant locally called stinkweed or tilsey sage is interesting because I found it mentioned in nearly every ethnobotanical reference written in Alaska. It has extensive medicinal uses throughout the state and now the Russian Far East. All the berries mentioned are also the most popular berries harvested in northern Alaska. The berry with the greatest increase in uses from the past is mesutaq better known as masru, lingonberry or low bush cranberry. No surprise there!
This study from Norway centered around glucose control in the liver. The researchers studied the pathways of glucose uptake and described the enzymes used in the final steps of carbohydrate digestion as alpha-amylase and alpha glucosidase. Any chemical that inhibits these enzymes will slow glucose uptake in the liver and be a benefit to anyone dealing with type 2 diabetes. They studies a lot of berries (bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), blackberry (Rubus fruticosus), black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa), black currants (Ribes nigrum), bog whortleberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus), Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum), Elderberry (Sambucus nigra), Lingonberry (Vaccinium vitas-idaea), raspberry (Rubus idaeus), red currant (Ribes rubric), rowan berries (mountain ash, Sorbus aucuparia), and sea buckthorn (Hippophae (Elaeagnus) rhamnoides). The phenolic compounds in all the berries inhibited response the enzymes that promote glucose uptake. Some berries had other chemicals that actually promoted glucose uptake: mountain ash and bilberry being the highest. The berries with the most powerful inhibitors were crowberry, cloudberry, bog whortleberry (bog blueberry), and lingonberry with crowberry being ranked number 1!
Posted in Blueberries (Vaccinium), Chokeberry (Aronia), Cloudberries (Rubus chamaemorus), Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum), Currants (Ribes), Elderberry (Sambucus), Health, Lingonberry, Lowbush cranberry, Vaccinium vitis-idaea), Mountain Ash (Sorbus), Raspberries (Rubus idaeus), Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae)
This is an interesting research paper from the University of Turku, Finland, the Finnish Beekeepers Association and the Tallin University, Estonia. The researchers conducted sensory taste testing and completed chemical profiles of several Finnish honeys (buckwheat, cloudberry, lingonberry, white sweet clover, willow herb (fireweed) and mixed flower honeys (composed of flowering mustards, clover and raspberry, and a member of the genus, Vaccinium). They found a total of 73 compounds that contribute to the aroma of the honeys. They also tested flavor, smell, color and texture with a panel of 62 people. Buckwheat honey was described as malty with a cheese- and fecal-like and cow- and barn-like aroma. Some called it “earthy”! They found that cloudberry honey had the highest level of aromatic compounds of those tested. It was described as pungent, solvent-like, herbal and citrus-like. Lingonberry honey was described as pleasant and sweet with notes of vanilla and caramel. The others were rated well because they were most familiar to the panelists and their pleasant aromas. The honey samples that rated poorly because of strong, unfamiliar odor, flavor and aftertaste as well as dark color were buckwheat and cloudberry! Both were strongly negative in consumer appeal.
I have eaten buckwheat honey, and it is as strong and “earthy” as described, more like a molasses rather than honey, but still good especially for baking. To lump cloudberry in the category is amazing! I have never seen a beekeeper sell cloudberry honey – not enough flowers in one location, I suspect, but it doesn’t sound like anything I would invest in! Lingonberries and fireweed – yes!
Kortesniemi, M., Rosenvald, S., Laaksonen, O., Vanag, A., Ollikka, T., Vene, K., Yang, B., Sensory and chemical profiles of Finnish honeys of different botanical origins and consumer preferences, Food Chemistry (2017), doi: Honey article
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!
Posted in Bearberry (Arctostaphylos), Berry Harvesting, Blueberries (Vaccinium), Cloudberries (Rubus chamaemorus), Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum), Ecology, Ethnobotany, Foraging, Lingonberry, Lowbush cranberry, Vaccinium vitis-idaea), Recipes, Wild harvesting
Nice research about increasing abundance of cloudberry plants by increasing fertilizers. Here is the abstract. The full article is available from the Canadian Journal of Plant Science.
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.
I lived in Finland for aobout 10 months many years ago. It is there that I first heard of tasted and fell in love with the cloudberry. One memorable way that we ate them was with Leipajuusto (bread cheese). Its kind of like a large thin pancake of squeaky cheese. We would eat little slices of leipajuusto with cloudberry jam on top. Yummmm! Here is a link for how to make the cheese: http://www.foodgeeks.com/recipes/finnish-squeaky-cheese-leipajuusto-3808. And here is a link to see how it looks being made and prepped with cloudberries on top! KDicristina, Fairbanks: Cheese.