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)
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.)
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!)
How are the fruit trees around your parts?