In the spirit of Unprocessed October, I thought I'd go ahead and post the rest of those native berries I mentioned a while ago. What can be less processed than berries you walked outside and picked yourself?
These are elderberries. I had never seen these until last week when my forager, David, brought some to the farmer's market. They are interesting tiny little berries, they have a fairly large seed compared to the flesh around them, so they're a little crunchy, but they taste great. David suggested drying them and then using them as you would blueberries in pancakes or muffins or on top of oatmeal. I used these fresh and made them into cough syrup for my son who's come down with a cold. =(
These are snowberries:
They might be my favorite native berry, even though they're inedible. They are just so beautiful clinging to the bare branches in the wintertime. My bushes don't produce as prolifically as ones that get more sun. (And are less covered in English ivy...) *ahem...*
These are evergreen huckleberries. I bought these last Spring and haven't gotten around to planting them yet (eek!) so I don't really know much about these berries. I assumed they'd be a little larger than this, and probably would have been if I hadn't been such a bad Mommy...
This is a Himalayan blackberry bush...
If you get a bunch of good berries, this is what happens:
If you get one sour berry, this is what happens:
These will also make you pull that face.
These are low Oregon grapes. They are sour as all get out, though the underlying flavor is pleasant in my opinion. You know, if you can get past the gut clenching sour part... There is a very similar looking plant called tall Oregon grape, the berries are more oblong, but rest assured they are still sour enough to suck off the insides of your mouth.
And these little darlings are salal berries. They usually grow right next to the Oregon grape and wouldn't you know it? They're sweet, a little like a blueberry. I've heard people make jelly out of them and use the Oregon grape as the pectin, though mine barely produce, so I don't have that luxury... These pictured here are a little smaller than the norm partly because it's so late in the season, and partly because they get very little sun which is great for the plant, but not so great for the berry production.
And finally, another native huckleberry, the Cascade huckleberry or Cascade bilberry. These berries are larger and sweeter than most other huckleberries. Usually around the size of small blueberries. David hooked me up with some of these this year, too. They're great in oatmeal with a little chia and molasses! The Latin name says it all!
I've said it before and I'll say it again, don't eat anything unless you know for sure what it is. That said, I hope I have encouraged you to find out what edible natives grow in your area and to search them out. From prickly pears in California, to blackberries in Washington, to teaberries in North Carolina, to dandelions on lawns everywhere, you may be surprised what you can find to nosh on!