Saturday, July 13, 2019

My Love/Hate Relationship with the Haskap Berries

Our three haskap berry bushes have produced abundantly this year.  And a few days ago, our resident robins were the first to alert us that the berries were ripe.

We checked the bushes out and sure enough, although there were still a few green berries to be found, several ripe ones had already dropped from the bushes to the ground.
Time to harvest.

The bushes are growing by leaps and bounds and we're wondering just how tall they will get.  Especially the Berry Smart Blue variety in the center.

The foliage looks very healthy and thick.

The berries a bit harder to pick than blueberries because the fruit grows on the underside of the heavily leaf-laden branches.

Over a two day period (last Thursday and yesterday -- thanks to Chicken Mama for her help in finishing up the task), we picked 98% of the ripe berries from the three bushes and left any that might still ripen for the birds.

Yesterday I processed them by first cleaning them . . . 

. . . and then measuring out the amount I needed for making our haskap berry syrup.

The above bowlful (a 6-quart bowl) is about a third of the total we harvested.

You may remember that in the past my attempts to make haskap berry jam following my blueberry jam recipe have failed and we've ended up with haskap berry syrup.  This has actually worked out just fine because we've used a small dribble of the syrup in our daily small dish of probiotics (yogurt/kefir mixture) and as syrup on pancakes, French toast and waffles.  We've been out of the last I made for a couple of months so I was eager to have more.

I made two and two-thirds batches yesterday (can you say hot and steamy kitchen?) and ended up with 10 pints and 2 half-pint jars.

There was a partial jar leftover that I put into the refrigerator for us to sample.

This morning I made French toast for breakfast looking forward to having and tasting the haskap berry syrup from that partial jar.

Can you guess what I'm going to say next?

We now have 10 pints and 2 half-pint jars of lovely, haskap berry JAM.

Why?  Why did I get jam this time when always before using the same recipe the consistency has been syrup?  I don't use any pectin in my jams so perhaps did the berries this year have more natural pectin in them?  Are the berries changing somehow as the bushes mature?  Are our haskap growing adventures going to drive me crazy?

Scratching my head I may be, but the jam is yummy.  It's full of antioxidants and who knows what other things that are good for us.  (I know it doesn't have too much sugar in it.  If only I had been able to make a video of our daughter's facial expressions when I asked her to sample it yesterday before it was refrigerated and set up!  I asked if it tasted too sweet to her.  I'll just say it did not, and let it go at that.)

So what will happen next season when I attempt making jam with those persnickety blue/black, nutrition-filled, prolific berries.  Darned if I know.


Michelle said...

Either jam or syrup sounds good to me, and I think heating your jam would give you yummy, warm SYRUP, too!

Mama Pea said...

Michelle - Heating the jam . . . you clever, girl you!

wyomingheart said...

Yep! That's what I do with the strawberry jam! Heat it up and you got syrup! Those berries sound wonderful! I have never tasted them.

Mama Pea said...

wyomingheart - The haskaps have a very different flavor. Hubby and I have been trying to define it. It's not bad by any means, but not like any other berry we've tasted. Some of the literature describe it as a cross between a blueberry and grape, but we don't think that's quite it. The flavor is "deep" and rich. Don't know if I could eat a bowlful of them fresh with milk or cream as they have an astringent/sour taste but have heard that other varieties (other than the ones we have) are much less sour.

This is what I love about having blogging friends and their knowledge shared. Call me an outright dummy, but as you and Michelle have suggested warming jam will make it syrup-like. Never thought of that!

wisps of words said...

Perhaps the kitchen was more "hot and steamy" this year... And that, produced JAM, instead of Syrup...???

lol... Yeah, there is a scientific reason, for you! lol

wisps of words said...


Remember the hawk, which was making a nest, with things from your garden?

Did she have babies?

How is she feeding them?

Inquiring minds remember. ,-) And want to know. >,-)

Mama Pea said...

wisps of words - Best "scientific" reason we've been able to come up with!

It was a Bald Eagle (very exciting to see close-up) that was helping him/herself from our mulch pile. We never knew where the nest was . . . only that he/she flew off to the southwest over our tall trees. We just remarked this past week that we haven't seen hide nor hair of him/her (if I'm correct, the males help build the nest, too) for a couple of weeks. Maybe the nest is satisfactorily built and little 'uns being tended to!

Elizabeth said...

As a life long reader and a very curious person about everything in general I must say the word haskap took me by surprise. I had never heard or read about these berries before today. I must admit I had to do a wikipedia search to learn something about them before I could even consider posting an intelligent comment. Interesting picture on Wiki showing three shelves of food items made from haskaps in Japan.

So thank you for sharing about these. I'm going to tell my husband and sisiter-in-law about these berries as I'm pretty sure neither of them have heard for haskaps either and they like to know new things just as I do.

Do you think these might grow just in your area of the country? I ask because they certainly are not something I've ever heard about growing here in New England.

Mama Pea said...

Elizabeth - They are fairly new to the U.S. having been originally grown in extremely cold climates. (I'm not an expert on the climates in Japan, but didn't know they had as cold a temperature range as the haskaps seem to like.) I understand they are much more popular cultivated in Canad (colder than us here in the states) and now working their way into the more northern areas of the United States. I'm thinking you would have no trouble growing them in New England. Ours seem to be thriving with our temperatures here in northern Minnesota going down to -20 below zero (sometimes more) in the winter and up into the 80s int he summer. Isn't it interesting to hear of a new fruit that we in colder areas and shorter seasons can grow?

Lynne said...

Those berries sure looks good. They do look a bit like blueberries, only oval in shape by the looks. I bet the jam is good because I don't like jam that's sweet, sweet. I think your right about them growing here .( New England) Would be worth a try. Does it take a few years to produce? There is so many thing good in them health wise. Take care!

Nancy @ Little Homestead In Boise said...

Looks great! Pretty soon I'm going to make Serviceberry syrup, for the same things. Something nice fr winter when we do waffles, etc...

Leigh said...

Well, I don't know either but have to share that I've had similar puzzling results with other berry jams. No way of knowing! I guess the thing to do is just make it and enjoy the results no matter how they turn out.

Mama Pea said...

Lynne - Yes, they are like blueberry bushes in that they don't really start to produce until the third or fourth year. We didn't know that (!) and were really discouraged at first. This their 7th year and are producing about as much as they can now, I think. BUT the bushes are still growing so I suppose that means more berries, too!

Nancy - It's kind of like producing your own syrup, isn't it? Saves buying commercial syrup! (It doesn't have to be maple syrup to be good!)

Leigh - Except for the year my blueberry jam turned out just like purple library paste. It was unbelievable. You couldn't even spread it and it had no taste. Figure that one out!

Susan said...

It seems ironic on so many levels. And even more so, when you figure that all the hot canning processes we go through, happen during the hottest part of the year. What does Haskap berry jam taste like - blueberry? Blackberry?

Mama Pea said...

Susan - We still can't figure out how to describe it. Very rich, not a "light" taste, not sweet but not objectionable, almost with a wine flavor. Will let you know when we can put the right words to it!

When I was doing the jam, Papa Pea came in from outside and told me I was doing a good job of heating up the kitchen. My retort was, "But imagine how it would feel if I was doing it on a wood cook stove as those hard-working, long-suffering housewives of days gone by did!"

Katie C. said...

I finally said “uncle” this year and bought a two burner propane camp stove from Dick’s Sporting Goods. The funny thing is they screwed up and I got it for free! Do I feel guilty? A little.

I made boozy cherries on it so far. It has been so stinkin’ hot here that I couldn’t bear to run the canner indoors. Tomato season is coming very soon. We have a huge crop but they are still green.

I’ve been blanching (3 minutes in the microwave) and freezing yellow squash. Tons of it. Only three baseball bat zucchini which made excellent fritters and then I froze the rest already shredded. Banana peppers are coming in strong too. Those are being cleaned and frozen in strips for any recipe calling for peppers. I still need to pick the last of the green beans. The heat is getting to them.

I did what you suggested about snipping chives to freeze. I’ve got oregano drying and I’ve been freezing parsley. Marjoram died and the tarragon is not looking well. I think it needs a sunnier spot but this was the first year that I’ve been able to grow parsley! Moving that herb bed a little worked wonders.

Did your garden survive all the rain that you got? I read on another blog that a lot of farmers couldn’t get their crops in because the ground was a mud pit. I think this means we will be seeing a big rise in food prices across the board. Couple that with the trade restrictions from Mexico and we all better be growing a lot of our own food. What do you think?

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