Fall Berries

It’s been a good year around Western New York for fruit.  It seems that everything that CAN bear fruit is doing so in abundance.  Some of the berries you can eat.  Some you can’t.  And I was surprised when I looked them up…  More are edible than I knew.

Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana and P. decora)
Mountain Ash Berries
The Peterson Guide to Edible Wild Plants describes the unripe fruit as “bitter and unpleasant when not fully ripe.”  It goes on to say that after repeated freezings, the “mealy-textured fruit become pleasantly sour.”  Rich in pectin, they are said to make good jelly.  While they can be eaten raw, the Guide recommends cooking and sweetening.  Mountain Ash Pie, anyone?  (In my copy of Peterson, Mountain Ash is lised under the old name, Pyrus spp.)

 Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)
DO NOT EAT!  Too bad, isn’t it, that this berry that looks so luscious and juicy is NOT EDIBLE?  The Peterson Guide warns, “Root, seeds, and mature stems and leaves dangerously poisonous.”  Yet there are instructions for using the new shoots in spring as an asparagus or pickle…

Crabapple (Malus spp.)
Crabapple 1 Crabapple 2
Peterson’s Guide says, “Although usually too hard and tart to be enjoyed raw, crabapples contain an abundance of pectin and make excellent jellies or preserves.”  There are over 30 species in this genus.  (The Peterson Guide lists this tree under the genus “Pyrus” just like the Mountain Ash!)

 Learn more:

How are the fruit trees around your parts?

10 thoughts on “Fall Berries

  1. Hi Jennifer. I enjoy visiting here and have bookmarked you on my favourites. Our fruit trees are blossoming here in the Southern Hemisphere. The Spring weather lately has been delightful.

  2. I’d never heard that about Autumn Olive, either!
    It seems the tiny fruits would be almost impossible to gather.

    We have an abundance of Elderberry–another more-work-than-its-worth bush. But the flavor is nice and wild.
    I’ve been unable to get highbush cranberry to take hold down here (SW Ohio) with no success–grew up (upstate NY) with one right outside the back door–I believe it’s tart, but edible.
    Pokeweed abounds and I love the plant for what it means to birds–know its a definite no-no for humans–the berries lovely, even when still pinkish white!

    What I’m most pleased with, is our wild grapes. The thrushes in the woods love them, and the vines are loaded this year.
    A bumper year for black walnut, too!

  3. Pokeweed, huh? I always thought that was elderberry. Goes to show what I know — I would have poisoned myself (although, to be honest, I did know that they were poisonous so I should have known that A did not equal B, right?).

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