Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Urban forager

My strawberry picking adventure has left me with a bug I can't shake. I'm a berry-pickin' maniac. Last week I spent about three hours harvesting mulberries and serviceberries (also called saskatoons or juneberries) in the city, from trees at Bartram's and street trees in my neighborhood. I also found a blog about urban foraging which has been an inspiration - First Ways.

I've been eye-ing these serviceberry trees that I pass on my way to work every morning and I noticed that they were getting quite ripe. So I did my research (made sure they weren't poisonous) and then grabbed some containers and headed over to them. Much to my surprise and delight there was already an urban forager over there and she had brought a ladder! I love this city.

In three hours I collected 6 pints of fruit! Absolutely free!

Serviceberries look and taste like blueberries without the intense tartness that I really love. Instead they are subtely sweet and their seeds taste like almonds. Mmmmmm. I read that they have lots of pectin, so I'm going to collect more soon and make jam, completely sans pectin.

I found lots of mulberry trees at Bartram's, including a white one. The white mulberries were really sweet, in that musky way that mulberries are. The black ones have some tartness to them. Mulberries supposedly fall off the tree when they are ripe, but I didn't collect any from the ground, the ones on the tree were ripe enough for me. They were kind of a pain to clean though, because I took off every single little stem by pinching it off between my finger nails. I might skip that part next time and just deal with a little extra texture.

I made two cobblers with these berries combined, using Joy's blueberry cobbler recipe (which of course references two other recipes so you have to keep flipping between pages). They were delicious! The serviceberry seeds added an almond taste to the whole thing and the pectin made the fruit gel up nicely.

I took one to work for my boss's birthday on Friday and one stays home with me and the boys. It's almost gone, mostly my doing.

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