Finding Edible Wild Fruits in the Country
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Even today, wild plums are a prize. They are only an inch in diameter and can be gold to ruby red. They’re exceptional for jams, jellies, dried snacks and desserts, as well as eating them by the handful. They’re ready once they easily fall from the tree. If you pick them too early, they’re tough and tart. But when they’re ready, it doesn’t take long to pick a bucketful in short order. They ripen mid to late summer.
Once harvested, they’ll last a few days outside of the refrigerator, or longer if kept chilled. Wash them gently so as not to bruise them. You can make jam, pulverize to dehydrate for fruit roll-ups, or use them in a number of delicious desserts.
Tangled mess of blackberries
While there is a wild blackberry native along the West Coast (Rubus ursinus), the most common one in my area is the Armenian blackberry (Rubus armeniacus). The species was promoted by Luther Burbank in 1885 as a “guaranteed grower,” an understatement at best. Armenian blackberries take over ditches and disturbed areas and may well envelop those who stand still for too long.
They’re not a berry for the faint of heart, either. Armenian blackberry bushes are well-armed with heavy thorns, but they produce such huge, luscious berries that it’s worth the effort. Just be sure to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to prevent looking like you just tangled with a bobcat instead of having spent time picking berries.
Despite their weedy nature, blackberries are a celebrated fruit of the West Coast. They’re excellent for pies, jams, wines and any berry dessert. Care for them as you do the black raspberries, being careful not to crush them.
Harvesting wild fruits is a sure way to create unique and delicious goodies, as well as plenty of memorable moments.
Amy Grisak is a garden writer who uses her Great Falls, Montana, home as a base when searching out the bountiful fruits found in the woods.
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