Unusual Fruits of North America and
What they are and what they taste like! Most of these
are VERY easy to grow at home, and may attractive, low maintenance landscape
plants, in addition to providing tasty fruit!
|Buffaloberries: The Buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea), is a drought tolerant,
sun-loving, nitrogen-fixing, thorny shrub often found in light soil of ravines
and stream banks. They sucker readily and are recommended for shelter belts.
White flowers appear in late April or early May, and the orange or red fruit
ripens in early to late fall. The fruit is bitter, but sweetens after a frost
and were used by indigenous people to flavour meat. They are high in iron, and
were also used as a tonic for blood disorders. They make good jellies and pies.
The Buffaloberry can be propagated by seed or by transplanting root suckers.
||Black current: Too tart and bitter to eat raw, but they're often used to make
syrups, preserves, and the liqueur cassis. Much more popular
in Europe (they like bitter foods there! :)
|Boysenberries: A boysenberry is
a cross between a blackberry, a raspberry, and a loganberry. They
are a dark purple almost black in color when ripe. It's softer than a
blackberry, but it also lacks the blackberry's large seeds. It was
developed in California, where people still favor them. The bushes / vines
have very prickly small thorns. It's best to wear gloves when picking
them. TThere is also a thornless variety - see Raintree Nurseries for
||Chokeberries or Chokecherry (also called Aronia Berry):
The Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) is similar in its habitat
preferences to the saskatoon. The white flowers, appearing in late May to early
June, form long bottle-brush like clusters. The fruits ripen in August, and can
be yellow, orange, red or dark purple in color. The fruit is astringent, but
makes good jellies, jams and sauces. Other parts of the plant were used by
native peoples for medicinal purposes. The roots were chewed and placed on
wounds to prevent bleeding, and the bark was boiled with other ingredients to
treat diarrhea and fever. Chokecherries can be propagated from seed, cuttings,
suckers and crown division.
contain high levels of vitamins, antioxidants, and polyphenols that reduce
the potential for cancer and heart disease. Products made from
chokeberries include jams, jellies, juice and Aronia wine.
Aronia Berry (Chokeberry) Production in Iowa
A two day event about sustainable organic commercial production and home garden
culture of black
chokeberry (Aronia melancarpa) was held in August 2008. For more
information about future events, commercial production and marketing of
aronia berries, visit
Everhart Horticulture Consulting.
Dr. Eldon Everhart, formerly with Iowa State University, is co-owner of
Everhart Horticulture Consulting. "
(UPDATED: December 24, 2010)
These are similar to blackberries, only they're smaller.
They're most popular on the west coast, and particularly
Oregon. You'll find it spreading along open ground. When the
berries are ripe they're hard to pick without squashing them. The
berry looks like a blackberry, but usually have far fewer drupelets (the
individual lumps on the berry). It is also somewhat powdery in appearance.
The most common elderberry in the United States
is the American elderberry, or sweet elder (Sambucus canadensis).
Reaching a mature height of 8 to 12 feet, it is a vigorous grower. Thick
clusters of numerous creamy white flowers are borne on five-stemmed stalks.
The elderberry produces 1/4-inch purple-black berries. The juicy
fruit are a rich source of iron and vitamin C. Berries are used for making
jelly, jam, pie, juice, and wine. Seeds are quite large and can become a
nuisance if they get stuck in your teeth
||Figs - They're not that unusual, but for some reason,
many Americans have never eaten a fresh fig. I blame fig newtons and
dried figs - those are NOTHING like a fresh fig. A fresh fig tastes
like a mix of a peach and a strawberry! Figs are one of the easiest fruit to
grow, requiring little attention, no pesticides and are fast growers.
|Gooseberries: The gooseberry is a large, tart
berries in season in June and July. American gooseberries are
round and about 1/2 inch to 1 inch in diameter, while European gooseberries are
oblong, and about twice the size of American gooseberries. They're
very acidic. They can be green, yellow or reddish. They also come
in various degrees of sweetness or tartness; from cooking gooseberries to
sweet dessert gooseberries.
huckleberry is similar to blueberries, and they're great for making
preserves and syrups.
Loganberries The loganberry is one of my
favorites. It tastes like a mix of strawberries, raspberries and
blackberries all combined. It makes great tasting jam! The dark
red when ripe. There's an interesting article on
Loganberries. The debate goes on as to which is the best:
Loganberries, Tayberries or Boysenberries; all of which are closely
related. Tayberries produce much more but have thorns. New
varieties of Loganberries are thornless but yield much less. And then there are people who rave about Marionberries
and olallieberries, which are also close relatives.
Loquats (Eriobotrya japonica, aka Japanese plum) are fruit trees
indigenous to southeastern China, but is now grown in Florida,
California and Israel. It is an evergreen large shrub or small tree that can grow
to 5-10 m tall, but is often smaller, about 3-4 m. Loquats are
unusual among fruit trees in that the flowers appear in the fall or
early winter, and the fruits are ripe in late winter or early spring.
The fruit is very slightly fuzzy, and a light orange color, or
orange-yellow. and have a large pit in the middle (or even several pits
in the very center; up to 7, but usually 1 or 2)The fruit is a creamy
white inside and is sweet (with some subacid
or acid) if left to ripen on the tree before picking. The fruit should be
peeled prior to eating; the skin, though thin, can be pulled off
manually if the fruit is ripe. Also, the seeds MUST be removed before
use, as they are toxic! It does make a wonderful jelly, and will grow in
the deep South of the US. The tree won't bear fruit until it is
about 10 yrs old (and the winter conditions have to be right in order to
The loquat is comparable to the apple in many aspects, with a high
sugar, acid and pectin content. It is eaten as a fresh fruit and mixes
well with other fruits in fresh fruit salads or fruit cups. Firm,
slightly immature fruits are best for making pies or tarts. The fruits
are also commonly used to make jam, jelly and chutney, and are delicious
poached in light syrup. A type of loquat syrup is used in Chinese
medicine for soothing the throat, like a cough drop. Loquats can also be
used to make wine. Loquats are easy to grow and are often also grown as
an ornamental tree.
|Mayhaws - a small (1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter)
crabapple-like fruit that grows on a type of thorny hawthorne tree. It
ripens from mid-April to early May, from which the name, mayhaw,
originated. The mayhaw is a wild native fruit tree found along river
bottoms and swamps from east Texas, east to Georgia and Florida, and
especially throughout Louisiana. It does well in swamps or drier,
better-drained land and best in full sunlight. The strained fruit is
most often used for making jelly, syrup and wine. The pulp is sometimes
made into jams, butters and pies. Few people eat the fruit raw. You can
shake the tree and gather the fruit from a bed sheet or piece of plastic
spread under the tree.
Mulberries The mulberry grows on a tree that
can get quite large. They are black and are so fragile that almost no
markets carry them. They are similar to
blackberries, just larger and much more fragile). The flavor is very mild,
and they are mildly sweet. I doubt whether many people would prefer
them to blackberries or raspberries, but if you have access to a tree,
they are very productive!
Mulberries also come in a white variety. Their
flavor is different from the blue-black berries but good!
three types of mulberries commonly found: the native north American ones
(black and a red variety). And the "chinese white". The black and red
(they are the color dark red, like a red delicious apple color) were
native, and earlier settlers imported the white ones from China, in the
hopes of getting silk worms to flourish. While no silkworms are around
any longer, the berry trees are all over the place. Most people don't
know they are edible. Of the three varieties, the black ones taste
almost watery with a delicate sweet flavor, overall, pretty bland. The
red ones are not much different, overall a great value for "free food"
as they are everywhere. Beware of the little critters that are on some
of them, though. The white...oh the white!! They are truly delicious,
it's almost like a different fruit altogether. When ripe, they can be as
long as 2", but more typically 1 1/2" long, with a slight lavender blush
on the outermost part of each individual nodule that makes up the
cluster of the berry. If you see some, start picking and eat them
fast...they don't last long. The tiny stem at the top is hard to remove
without a knife and usually just eaten. Some people add them to pancakes
and muffins, simply following recipes for blueberries, however, they are
best fresh just rinsed and chilled.
|Olallieberries: The olallieberry
is a cross between a youngberry and a loganberry; it's black and fairly
sweet. It is popular in California and Oregon.
(often misspelled as Ollalieberries). Plants are very hard to come
by. Nurseries in California often have them in the Spring, There
are a few online sellers/shippers, like
anyone knows of one, please write
me, I'd like to get a few plants to try!
||Paw-Paws: Also known as a prairie banana, Kentucky
banana, or Ozark banana, is small tree with large leaves and fruit,
native to southeastern North America. Also spelled paw paw, paw-paw, and
The pawpaws are shrubs or small trees, reaching heights of 2 to 12 m
tall. The fruit is a large edible berry, 2 to 6 inches long and 2.5 to 3
inches wide, weighing from a few ounces to a pound, with numerous seeds.
It is green when unripe, maturing to yellow or brown. It has a flavor
somewhat similar to both banana and mango, varying significantly by
variety, and it has more protein than most fruits.
||Salmonberries - They're sweet, with an orange blush
when completely ripe. Small (1/2 inch across), tasty, native to the
west coast, from California to Alaska and in to parts of Idaho. They are a
trailing vine that is very prickly! Raintree Nursery sells the plants. Wikipedia has
Saskatoons - It is also called the Western or Pacific
Serviceberry, Saskatoon Berry and Alder Leaved Serviceberry. They are
very similar to blueberries. It is a Deciduous shrub/tree, to 40 ft (12
m), spreading to erect. They like well-drained moist soils. They are
cold and drought tolerant. Flowers small, white, fragrant appear in
early to late May or early June, and the purple fruit ripens in early to
late July. Fruit is 1-1.5 cm, rounded, purple-black,
edible, sweet. Hardy to USDA Zone 4. Native range from southern Alaska
to California, east to the Dakotas, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Arizona,
mostly along river banks and moist thickets and forests.
Apparently, the fruit tastes a bit like a blueberry. The berries have a
pleasing and unique flavor, and are also high in iron and copper. They
are good eaten fresh or in desserts. Native peoples used them in soups,
stews and pemmican. They were also used in medicines for stomach and
liver problems, and the juice was used as a dye. They can be propagated
from seed, cutting, or suckers.
||Seaberries - has bright yellow-orange to red
berries that are 7 times higher in vitamin C than lemons. They're
also every bit as tart! . Like cranberries, when sweetened, it is
delicious in juices and jams.
The shrubs grow to 6 to 18 feet when mature, Russians and eastern
Europeans make the berries into sauce, jam, juice, wine, tea, candy, and
even ice cream. The berries are also known as "Siberian pineapple"
Some folks (in New England) have reported that these are the same
as Autumn-olive berries, which also ripen in fall. This
non-native (Asian) shrub has small red berries, speckled with pale grayish
or tan scales. The plant, which is usually over ten feet high by the time
it is ready to bear fruit, has distinctive silver undersides of the long,
narrow leaves. The berries are sour, but after a few frosts, become much
sweeter. The seeds do have soft yellow seeds which may be spit out or
eaten with no ill effect.
||Tayberries: This is popular
in Oregon, and even more popular in the UK. It comes from Scotland, in 1977, near the Tay River, when a
raspberry was crossed with an Aurora trailing blackberry (I've also heard
it was a cross between a loganberry and a black raspberry). It's flavor is
aromatic, similar to the Loganberry, with a bit more acidity, and farm
more productive. I
prefer them to raspberries!
Home Canning Kits
This is the same type of standard canner that my grandmother
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spaghetti sauce. This complete kit includes everything you need and
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lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel,
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