Category Archives: Sources of Information

Fruit and Vegetable Waste That is Not Really Waste

Fruit and Vegetable Waste: Bioactive Compounds, Their Extraction, and Possible Utilization  Narashans Alok Sagar, Sunil Pareek, Sunil Sharma, Elhadi M. Yahia , and Maria Gloria Lobo 2018. Comprehensive reviews in Food Science and Food Safety Vol 00. Available online:

Years ago when I was completing my PhD on lingonberries I learned quite a lot about fruit processing how even the steam created in the process of making lingonberry sauce was captured and “mined” for a whole host of volatile and aromatic compounds that were packaged and sold for use somewhere else in the food industry. This article is a fascinating review of even more modern techniques being used to extract bioactive compounds from what would otherwise be called food waste.  After the apple has been peeled and sliced, there is a tremendous waste stream that includes stems, peels, seeds and pulp that usually ends up in a compost pile or worse- buried in a landfill. “.. Apples generate 10.91% of seed and pulp as by-products, and 89.09% of final products during slicing.”  When you think about the tons of apple products made worldwide, that’s a lot of waste from a single fruit! Bananas yield 35% waste through their peel!

“Losses and waste occur during all phases of the supply and handling chain, including during harvesting, transport to packinghouses or markets, classification and grading, storage, marketing, processing, and at home before or after preparation. Losses occur throughout the supply chain from production throughout all postharvest stages before consumption.”

Although this article emphasizes tropical fruits, it is an eye opener as far as what is actually left behind after processing, and the technology being used to capture such things as dietary fiber, phenolic compounds, flavorings, aromas and more. Most fascinating is a list of fruits that are treated with microorganisms to release a whole rainbow of enzymes, organic acids, and proteins that are then packaged and used in other food products as stabilizers, agents to prevent browning in processed products. We often look at the food industry in a poor light, but food chemistry is far more complex than most people realize, and this is a great example of recycling and repurposing that has been happening for many years.

The article also describes methods by which this waste extraction happens. Such exotic processes as microwave-assisted extraction, pulsed electrical field extraction, enzyme assisted and liquid to liquid extraction seem so foreign but are part of a growing technology to harvest everything of value from the waste stream and make it useful. Pretty impressive! Of course, you could eat the entire apple- peels, seeds and all, but even that would not provide the valuable components liberated by the many extraction techniques.


Ode to pollinators

If you’re a gardener, berry lover, or if you eat food, it wouldn’t hurt to spend a little more time appreciating our pollinators. One of my favorite authors, Rowan Jacobsen, wrote an enlightening book on the topic of pollination–Fruitless Fall (see below), in particular, on colony collapse disorder in honeybees. It’s frightening to think about the fragility of our current system of pollination. Luckily, wild berries in Alaska do not depend on managed hives for pollination. On my reading list since I read Fruitless Fall is  Forgotten pollinators. We should probably all spend a little more time appreciating these flying wonders. I enjoyed watching the beautiful video of buzz pollination(see below)  And while we’re on the topic, check out the Xerces society. They have a plethora of great resources on protecting and appreciating our sometimes forgotten and under-appreciated invertebrates. HR Fairbanks
Buchman, S. L. 1997. Forgotten pollinators. Island Press.
Karl Foord. 2014. Buzz Pollination.
Jacobsen, R. 2010. Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis. Bloomsbury, USA.
Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation (Home Page). 2016. Available at: 14 Sept, 2016.

Fairbanks Facebook Link

One place that has been helpful for tips about the best places to pick in the Interior has been the “Fairbanks, Alaska” public group on Facebook. This summer, folks were posting updates about when blueberries were ripe on Nordale, which picking spots were closed due to wildfire, etc. Here is a bookmark, although you do have to be logged in to Facebook to see the group posts:Fairbanks Facebook Link

Berry Folklore

In addition to the science, there are also cultural aspects to berries that are worth noting. Some berry folklore for you, compiled by Cornell University: Berry Folklore

Berry Guide

I wanted to share one of my favorite berry guides. It’s a small book that you can slip in your pocket while you berry pick and has great full-color pictures of both flowers and berries on each berry plant. They also categorize berries according to color and if they are poisonous. Really handy.Berry Guide Berry guide2

Some Good Alaska Sites

Facebook is a great place to connect with other Alaska berry hunters/foragers. Here are three Alaskan groups with lots of information and members to share knowledge with:

Alaska berry pickers: Alaska Berry Pickers

Alaska edible and medicinal plants: Alaska Edibles and Medicinals

Alaska wildcrafting and foraging: http://Alaska Wildcrafting and Foraging


Medicinal Plants

Although not strictly a “berry book”, Medicinal Flora of the Alaska Natives by Ann Garibaldi is an excellent resource to learn about traditional uses of local plants. While we all may know of many ways to utilize the fruits themselves, this book gives information about how other parts of the plant are used as well. For example, the Dena’ina people prepared a tea of crowberry (Empetrum nigrum) leaves for stomach ailments, and while we often think of pumpkin berries (Geocaulon lividum) as inedible the leaves have been used by the Dena’ina people as a poultice.

The book is out of print, but is available for free online as a PDF from the Alaska Natural Heritage Program.

Good Books about Berries

Here are a few of my favorite books which include lots of great information on berries in Alaska. Anyone interested in collecting berries in Alaska should add these books to their personal library.

This book identifies most of the edible, non-edible and poisonous plants in Alaska. The big plus with this books are all the recipes provided.

Editors of ALASKA® magazine. 1984. Alaska wild berry guide and cookbook. Alaska Northwest Publishing Company. Alaska.

I’m still reading and exploring this book. Lots of information on medicinal uses and how to harvest and prepare your goodies.

Gray, B. 2011. The boreal herbal. Wild food and Medicine plants of the North. Aroma Borealis Press. Yukon.

This was one of my first Alaskan plant reference books. It was written by one of the pioneers of Alaskan edibles and should be in everyone’s library.

Heller, C.A. 1993. Wild edible and poisonous plants of Alaska. University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska.

Verna has explored many areas of Alaska documenting and with her husband, Frank, photographing much of it as well. Her book fits well into a hip pocket and should accompany anyone foraging for Alaskan berries.

Pratt, V.E. 2001/ Alaska’s wild berries and berry-like fruit. Dai Nippon Printing Co. Ltd, Hong Kong.

This book is a brief compilation of Janice’s larger book and is also a great one to take out while harvesting.

Schofield, J. J. 1999. Alaska’s wild plants. A guide to Alaska’s edible harvest. Alaska Northwest Books. Oregon.

This is a must have book. Janice has thoroughly explored each plant within the book’s covers. She provides great anecdotal information which brings to life each and every plant.

Schofield, J.J. 2014. Discovering wild plants. Alaska, Western Canada, the Northwest. Eaton, New Zealand.

Alaska Grown Source Book

The Alaska Grown Source Book is a place to look for commercial berry growers. It has a produce availability chart that tells you when raspberries and strawberries are available in the state. It also lists all the different farms across Alaska including u-pick locations if there are any in your area. Here is a link from DRN where you go to download the latest guide: Alaska Grown Sourcebook

Cooperative Extension Service: lots of berry info.

Many folks don’t realize that Cooperative Extension not only has a lot of publications about berries in their catalog, but that there is an easy reference page for them.Cooperative Extension

You don’t have to search through the catalog for each one, all the berry guides are collected on the “All About Berries” page! These publications have recipes, growing advice, and more.