July 8, 2011

Wild Berry Picking!

Today, I went berry picking with a few friends. The forecast called for severe thunderstorms but luckily, they held off. We plan to make jam, preserve them whole and make colonial wine. The majority of our haul was wine-berries (Rubus phoenicolasius) but we also found a few ripe blackberries. We saw unripe wild grapes, patches of unripe blackberries, tons of walnuts and hickory nuts and even some mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum.)


Wineberry is a species of raspberry which originated in Asia and has since become invasive. This particular type of raspberry was introduced into the U.S. in 1889 and now grows in practically every state in the eastern U.S. They were originally planted for their berries but were later valued for their ornamental use.

Once off the bush, the berries are indistinguishable from older strains of raspberry so we can use them for our colonial treats. In Colonial times, raspberries were used for wines, pies and deserts.
 
Sometimes the plants would be cultivated but frequently, many plants were propagated wildly by birds. The wild berries were harvested by locals, used in the home or taken to market for city dwellers who could not grow their own. 



In her 1837 book, The American Frugal Housewife, Lydia Marie Child recommends that children make themselves useful by picking wild berries for sale in town.
 








We gathered a lot of berries. It is definitely a task that is a lot easier with a lot of helping hands. The plants are prickly so you have to be careful not to get pricked.

4 comments:

  1. Next time please call me. :) It looks like so much fun.

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  2. If you really want to go I think we are going back next week for blackberries, assuming they are ripe.

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  3. I would love to pick wild berries, they are so much nicer

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  4. Thanks Eleonor. You should, they really are just all over the place. Many people just think they are weeds.

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