Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Only Option Left May Be Alcohol

On Wednesday of this week we harvested our haskap berries.  We found it hard to tell when they were ripe by depending on the taste.  (That would be sour.)  But, supposedly, they are different than other berries and ripen all at the same time and since a few were starting to fall to the ground we figured it was time.

The berries were abundant this year.  We picked 5-3/4 quarts from our three 4-year old bushes.  They're not easy to pick because the berries grow at random spots on the branches, sometimes deep within the heavily leafed bushes.  And they are squishy.  Even when they come off easily, they are soft and juicy.  And the juice stains.  Trust me.  I know.


Cleaning them is much more time consuming than cleaning blueberries.  Many had the stems still attached.  Because they're juicy, your hands get wet and sticky and leaves or any other debris ends up in the picking container.  (Isn't this fun?  Shall I go on?)  The above shows some of the berries after I cleaned them.


They're more oval than a blueberry and bigger.  Kinda funny shaped.


I decided to take one quart and make a pie.  I used my tried and true blueberry pie recipe which calls for 1/3 cup of flour as thickener.


Taking the pie out of the oven, I noticed the juice showing between the strips of lattice crust seemed quite "liquidy."



After letting the pie cool completely (hoping the filling would firm up), we sampled it.  Runny?  Oh, yeah.


The flavor?  Tart.  Not as sour as eating the raw berries, but tart.  I'm not sure I could have eaten a whole piece without ice cream on top to cut the tartness.  I can only state that the pie has not disappeared as quickly as pies usually do around our house.


Just to give the haskaps a fair trial, I made a batch of jam.


A batch of runny jam.  Too thin to put on bread, but we'll try it one of these mornings on waffles or pancakes.  You know, like syrup.  How's the flavor of the jam?  Tart.  And almost medicinal.  Huhn.  I'm not at all sure using it as a syrup is going to fly either.

Oh, I almost forgot.  We tried dehydrating a tray of them.  Hours and hours and hours (maybe it was days) later, they were still wet.  And tasted slightly bitter.  Almost as if they were burned . . . but still wet.  We tossed them.

So what is all the hype about haskap berries being the best thing since sliced bread?  Why did we plant some bushes in the first place?

Well, they have been proven to have a huge amount of antioxidants in them.

They have a tradition of medicinal (aha!) uses in Japan.  They are five times more potent in polyphenals than blueberries.  (Polyphenals are believed to protect against some common health problems and certain effects of aging.  Yay!)

Haskaps have the highest anthocyanin content of any fruit, they're high in Vitamin C, A, fiber and potassium.  (Anthocyanins have a positive effect on cardiovascular health, have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.  All good.)  But what good is all this if you have to force yourself to stuff them down your gullet?  Sigh.

Papa Pea and I both have a feeling they would make good wine.  It certainly would be an attractive color.  (Wonder if it would stain your teeth?  Oh, crickey.)  Dear daughter of ours has been wanting to try making a cordial from them.  I've assured her I have a nice amount squirreled away in the freezer for her to do just that.

28 comments:

Susan said...

Well, golly! I'm going to run out and get a few bushes to plant next to my currant bushes - double the fun! Hope the alcohol brings out the best of their "medicinal" purpose... :)

Kristina said...

Interesting facts on those berries. I would say they'd make a great syrup and wine. Yum.

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

You're not really selling these berries well! Regardless of the medicinal benefits, I don't think I would bother. Do you also grow blueberries? They seem to be a much kinder, gentler berry.
Let us know if you try to make wine from them. That might be a better choice. -Jenn

Theresa Young said...

Never heard of these berries. Good tutorial. There must be some palatable recipes out there. It would be a shame not to grow them given all the health benefits. How do the Japanese use them?

Theresa Young said...

I was so curious I looked on the net for more info. Its grown in the wild in Alaska and Canada and is very popular up there. Maybe its just an acquired taste. Good luck with you cordial.

FoxyLady said...

I have never heard of them. Doesn't look like I'm missing much. I had thought of growing the goji berries tho. I did see some plants for sale. Couldn't decide where to put them and never did. I'm always up for a good tasting, healthy berry! :)

MrsDuncanMahogany said...
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MrsDuncanMahogany said...

Hmmmmm, I think even with all the health benefits the experts are touting would make me hesitant to plant any now given your excellent reviews on the berries. I shall stick with blueberries. I think cordial is worth a shot since you have covered all other bases. The runny jam would be ideal on waffles or pancakes for sure! Maybe mixed with a bit of maple syrup so the tartness takes a hit? The pie looks delicious tho!

Rain said...

Hi Mama Pea :) Gosh you're right, what is the point if you have to force feed??? That's really too bad about the tartness, but I'm sure you don't want to drown it all in sugar either. They are funny looking berries! A cordial/syrup may be a great idea because you can play with the sweetness in it. I wonder how the wine would be? The pie does look nice, even if it is runny!

Sandy said...

Mama Pea,

I've never seen these berries before. Interesting, I'll have to keep an eye out for them or the bush.

Hugs,
Sandy

gld said...

I am always a little suspicious of all these wonder berries and fruits that we have never heard of before being so much better for us. I suspect our old tried and true and native ones as just as good.
I have tried a few trials and errors with various things.....back to the older versions.

Hard to beat a blueberry pie in my opinion. My sis makes one that is delicious. I can't raise blueberries down here without totally revamping my soil.....alas. I have tried that too.

Try that wine. I am betting that would be wonderful.

Mama Pea said...

Susan - Hmmm, maybe that's what the Japanese people have meant by using them for medicinal purposes . . .

Mama Pea said...

Kristina - Hoping for good wine. Maybe. Someday. Perhaps. ;o)

Mama Pea said...

Jenn - Haha, if I was serving on the National Council for Haskap Berry Advancement . . . I'd be fired, wouldn't I?

Yes, we do grow an abundant amount of blueberries for our own use. And that's probably where we should have stopped!

Mama Pea said...

Theresa Young - I don't know what the Japanese people do with them nor all the other folks who tout them as being the cat's meow! I found lots of suggested recipes by Googling them, but unless you add a boat load of sugar (which kinda negates the health benefits of them, if you ask me), I don't know how they are made palatable. :o/

Mama Pea said...

Theresa Young - Yes, since they're grown in other "cold" regions, we thought they would be perfect for us here in northern Minnesota.

Mama Pea said...

FoxyLady - Yep, we have thought of giving goji berries a try, too. At least you and I know that goji berries taste good . . . if we ever do try planting some!

Mama Pea said...

MrsDM - I've been told there are many different varieties of haskap berries and some are sweeter than others. But, frankly, I don't think we're up for giving any other varieties a go at this point. We will try using them to make a cordial though. And mixing some of my runny jam with maple syrup (which has many nutritional benefits!) is a great idea!! Thanks for making that suggestion.

Mama Pea said...

Rain - I certainly don't know for sure, but I am suspicious that the recipes for all the different things that are made out of the haskaps do require more sugar as sweeteners than I'm willing to use. Let's cross our fingers for making them into some kind of a pleasant tasting drink!

Mama Pea said...

Sandy - Because they are grown in cooler climates, they probably aren't advertised or available in your warmer area. (Lucky you. Now that was not nice, Mama Pea!)

Mama Pea said...

Glenda - You may have something there. If we would just stick with the "old" way of doing things, I think we'd all be better off.

Yes, blueberries do need an acidic soil in which to grow. We've got ours in their own little patch where we've worked to get the soil to their liking. And since they produce abundantly for us, I think we should stick with them!

Little Homestead In Boise said...

You could add some sugar or stevia?

Mama Pea said...

LHinB - Yes, I'm sure adding more sugar (or honey or stevia) would improve the tartness of the berries, but I try to use as little sweetener as I can get by with. Maybe I should stir some liquid stevia into a jar of the jam/syrup and see what that does to it. I'm usually not fond of the "flavor" of stevia but it would be worth a try in this case.

Kev Alviti said...

Interesting read. Sometimes something isn't popular for a simple reason- it doesn't taste good! I was going to say dehydrate them but as you tried it maybe they're a lost cause. Do the chickens like them?

Kev Alviti said...
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Mama Pea said...

Kev - So far, the poultry hasn't had the chance to vote for or against them! The ones we haven't already experimented with are in the freezer waiting for our daughter to "alcohol-ize!"

odiie said...

My honeyberries taste just like yours. :{
I ate some and put more in the fridge for later, (forgot about them). My Honey accidentally hit one of the bushes when he was mowing. Lost half the bush, but I think it's going to make it. I'm thinking syrup might be my best bet? How do you make cordial?

piseth san said...
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