Finding Edible Wild Fruits in the Country

Edible wild fruits offer an unexpected bounty.

| May/June 2011

Tending the home orchard and berry patch takes the guesswork out of  the fruit harvest, which makes plenty of sense for producing the staples. But once the domestic delights are in hand, you might embark on a wild adventure to supplement that bounty with some of the most incredibly flavorful fruits available – edible wild fruits. 

Edible Wild Fruit Recipes:
Huckleberry and Honey Scones Recipe
Wild Plum Jam Recipe 

In every region of the country, a bountiful, uncultivated buffet awaits those who like to explore their wild side. The trick is to know what fruits you’re looking for, and to take the time to find where they grow and when they are likely to ripen. If you’re new to picking outside the garden, contact your local extension office for information about the fruits that grow wild in your area and for tips on which look-a-likes might be poisonous. Always seek permission from the landowner if you want to hunt wild fruit on any property besides your own; maybe you could even give them a share of the pickings.

Black raspberries

The black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis) found growing along hedgerows and lanes from the East Coast to the Dakotas is one of my favorites. Raspberry patches are easy to find since they don’t grow in the shaded parts of the woods; they are more out in the open, along paths and lanes on farms. And it doesn’t take long to pick enough for dessert, even when you’re popping every other one into your mouth.

The greatest challenge to harvesting these wild fruits is avoiding the thorns that line the curved, whiplike stalks. You might carefully reach in to pluck a group of berries only to be caught by the prickles on the way out. The second issue is being aware of poison ivy that often grows in the same area. As the saying goes, “leaves of three, let it be.” Always watch for the telltale description, and pick carefully – or avoid the area altogether if you’re allergic to this toxic plant.

When picking wild cane fruit, it’s wise to wear long pants, sturdy shoes and a long-sleeved shirt. And don’t forget to bring several small buckets. You don’t want to put so many berries in a single container that the bottom layer gets crushed.

8/21/2013 8:00:01 AM

We have had an AWESOME summer!! Loads of blackberries ~~ Eight GALLONS according to last count, not counting the handfuls eaten while we picked. The wild blackberries were overflowing this year, probably due to the fact that we had higher than average rainfall, and the drought ended this summer. We canned berries till we were ready to drop. Jelly, jam and berries for cobbler. Then when we couldn't stand to look at black berries any more, the elderberries started coming on. So far, only 18 pints of jelly processed from them, but they are still just beginning to ripen!!

5/19/2011 11:45:56 AM

How about wild blueberries? Those are a favorite in Southern woods.

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