If you are considering the option of foraging for wild berries, the one aspect you need to keep in mind is that wild berries are a very elusive fruit. They are most plentiful in the summer and fall months, then just as if someone had waved a magic wand, they will disappear.
The state of their ripeness goes from perfect to over-ripe about as quickly as you can blink your eye. That is why forages for these ever-elusive sweet treats have a mere few weeks each summer to complete their harvest. In addition to the short foraging season, there is the ongoing competition with bugs and birds for the best of the pickings.
However, with all that said, once you have foraged for and tasted wild berries, you will find that you will never want to go back to store-bought. They taste so much better that even though they do not store well, or for very long, will not play a part in you wanting them.
Now, let’s take a look at the top varieties that are preferred by foragers.
In the summertime, raspberries are among the varieties that will grow pretty much anywhere it can take root. The bushes themselves have sharp-little prickles, and they are not willing to give up their bounty without a fight. Presenting with a red berry that Is both tart and sweet, the bushes overflow in the multitudes, with the ripest berry being deep red and as sweet as any candy.
A favorite of almost all New Englanders, blueberries is easy to spot and hard to miss. They grow on a thin-branches shrub with glossy leaves. They have a tendency to bloom in groups, usually of five or ten, and they prefer acidic soils. When the fruit is ripe, it will readily and easily fall off the plant.
Mulberry trees are not shy about shedding their fruit, and as a result, are not a favorite amongst many homeowners. However, for foragers, this is a win-win situation as they are able to scoop up as many of the berries as they want. Mulberries look quite a bit like blackberries, however, they have a strong, somewhat soapy flavor. They are also known to make some excellent wine.
Often referred to as bramble fruit, blackberries, and black raspberries have a somewhat similar appearance. To keep it interesting, when ripened, blackberries an also present with a yellow or red coloring. It has long been believed that native tribes would use blackberry leaves to aid in the treatment of indigestion.
Elderberries have been in the news a lot lately, because of their immune-boosting properties. Some studies show that elderberry syrup can be just as effective at fighting the flu as the well known Tamiflu. Unlike the other berries on our list, unless the elderberries are fully ripened, they are very toxic.
Foraging for wild berries can both fun and rewarding. Berries freeze well until you decide if you want to include them in a cobbler, or are ready to process them into jams or jellies.