In the absence of many fresh vegetables here on the south coast of Newfoundland, Matt and I have gone berry crazy! Potatoes, carrots, turnip, cabbage and onions are about all that come fresh; so we have been on a berry blitz to try and get our nutrients! The south coast is plentiful in berries with different varieties becoming ripe throughout the summer. I think in the process of picking the two of us lost pints of blood to the Newfoundland Berry Protectors: the blackflies. This effective force was the biggest deterrent of picking and I think we likely got a bite for every second berry we picked.
It started in Rose Blanche where I found wild strawberries. It is almost hard to believe that these tiny pea size red berries bursting with flavour are even related to the tasteless gigantic red things you get at the grocery store. Few and far between I could only find about a cup worth but they were tasty in pancakes the next morning.
Following that in Grand Bruit at the end of July it was bakeapple (also known as cloudberry) season. Almost worth their weight in gold these are apparently the most expensive berries in the world. They are also an acquired taste. I do not particularly like them but made a decent infused vodka as well as a sauce. Many people use them in pie and jam, but their large seeds usually means they are strained. Bakeapples enjoy open, semi-dry areas and look like raspberries (and are in the same family) but are generally larger and a light orange colour. I find they have a bit of a slimy texture… but don’t let that deter you!
Next began our adventures with blueberries. The more I baked the more Matt got into picking them until I was the one saying we should move on from a patch. These grew in large bunches everywhere we stopped with the largest supply being found in the old community of Rencontre West. Blueberries come in a couple varieties, I’m not sure if they are considered different species or simply sub-species but the tastiest seem to come from the low-to-the-ground variety with small light coloured mat-finish leaves. These are also the smallest ones and the most challenging to pick. Other varieties grow in larger clumped bunches, where generally about half are ripe at one time. These were usually the mother-loads, where picking was most efficient. A third variety came on higher, knee-height bushes with pointed glossy leaves. The berries on these bushes were also generally larger, though sometimes hid in the bush! Whatever the case, we used these berries on everything for weeks! Pie, jam, pancakes, on cereal, in oatmeal, in a loaf, infused vodka, cobbler, crisp… the list goes on!
Another lesser known berry found in Newfoundland, and also across Nova Scotia and the North, are crowberries, locally known as blackberries. These small round berries have a seed in them and are slightly bitter, but are great in baking or jam. They also work well if you need to bulk up your blueberry supply for a pie!
Lastly we were picking raspberries. I assume these are “wild” but we really only found them in previously settled areas so I am unsure if they were originally planted or brought with the settlers. Unfortunately writing these posts on the boat I can’t really research this. Raspberries in my opinion are the ultimate prize. Though delicate and more difficult to pick, I love their tart juicy taste. From these I made a tart, pancakes and raspberry vinegar.
These are just some of the berries available in Newfoundland. We also found lowbush cranberries (aka. lingonberries), but these are not ripe until mid to late September or after the first frost. We did not find partridgeberries, and did not pick juniper berries, also both edible. Our raspberry vinegar along with blueberry jam we plan to open in the winter to get a tasteful memory of our summer of sailing!