I’d had enough of reading about Karlynn‘s foraging successes, especially having spent far too much time harvesting far too few berries of the low-bush variety. Rather than a sheet pan one layer deep of low-bush, roughly the same amount of time spent picking highbush yielded 21 lbs of fruit. As you can see in the photo, highbush cranberry grows rather tall, into loose trees up to 15+ feet tall, and will fruit throughout the tree, resulting in many, many clusters of about a dozen berries per. It adds up fast.
We picked on a trail we used to walk daily for years, so my wife and I know it well – where the good spots are for every type of wild berry or mushroom one might want to harvest. This year, we didn’t make it half way to the first good spot, because the fruit was EVERYWHERE. I could have spent a week straight picking in that ravine, and likely still have fruit to pick. I get this strange fervor that comes over me when berry picking – I can’t stop. I get zoned into what I’m convinced is a genetically programmed bliss when foraging, something pushing me to keep going, despite all logic suggesting I have enough. It’s strange, but fun.
So I made some jelly. Rather, I failed at making jelly. So I have syrup, which is okay by me. More importantly in my mind, I had enough juice [I juiced it in my fruit press], that I decided to try a small batch of wine. Very exciting, as I love the concept of pairing game meats with fruit wine from the bush where the game animals live, and have never made highbush cranberry wine. Coincidentally, I was at En Santé Organic Winery and Meadery a few hours after pitching yeast into the wine, shooting their ‘From Local Farms‘ episode, and I had the opportunity to try their highbush cranberry wine for the first time. It’s distinctly representative of the fruit, akin to a rosé with all kinds of structure on the palate. Orchard and wild fruit wines can lack in the structure department, so this was an important discovery for me. The opportunity to blend that structure into other wines – like saskatoon – is quite intriguing.
So thanks, Karlynn, for the kick in the butt to get out there. Turned out to be one of the best years I can remember for yield. And there are still loads of berries out there – so get out and pick all that free, local, wild food before the season ends!!!