Saturday, July 9, 2011

Foraging for Berries

My once a year trip into a Saint Paul park for raspberries was today. I grabbed two-one quart mason jars and Aurelia; and off we went. We hiked into the park late morning and found our first raspberry patch right away. This park we typically go to for family walks and always keep our eyes open for berry plants. We picked for about ten minutes when a Saint Paul Parks Security Officer stopped us. I am a novice forager and I was not sure what to expect. She was a very nice lady I talked to her for about five minutes. She told me a family was living in the park and ask if I saw anyone. We just got there and I said I did not. We ended up talking about jelly and she told me about a very ripe mulberry tree in Como Park.

Aurelia and I picked berries for two hours. We ended up filling the two quart jars. It was hard work. You are deep in a patch of raspberry plants with thorns, thistle, bugs and weeds. Sweat was dipping off my face, my hands were stained from the berry juice, my arms have several scratches, I became close with beetles, spiders and mosquitoes; and have the bites to prove it. What I find neat about foraging is the intimacy with nature you have. You become very focused on your job. There were several plants and several berries. I wanted only the ripe ones and you have to look hard not to miss them. At one point I looked around, I was up hill from a swap, the raspberry plants were over my head and I was not able to see the trail we were off. I got a bit anxious and thought I was going to be swallowed up and never seen again.  We were both glad to get into the air conditioned car to go home.

During the Raspberry picking

I was not able to resist the chance to get mulberries. I grab Annika for our first foraging adventure and we went up to Como Park. I found the tree right where the Officer told me it was.

This year was the first time I learned about a mulberry. I saw a mulberry tree in Platteville, WI on a family trip about a month ago and didn't know what it was. Fruit is easy to forage for, so when a plant has fruit you try to find out if it's edible or not. I found some more mulberry trees in Saint Paul and figured out the fruit is safe to eat. The ripe fruit looks and tastes a lot like a blackberry.

The problem I came across with the mulberry tree, is that it is a tree and the fruit is up high. I grabbed what I could off of the two trees I found, getting only about one pint. When I walked out of the patch of trees I was covered with sticky weeds and my hands were a lot more purple than they were with the raspberries. There were a few families with their kids around an attraction at the park; I felt a little self conscious.

When I got home I took all the berries and put them in the freezer until I get around to making jam with them. I need to harvest the raspberries from the yard. I am sure I have at least two quarts out there.

Aurelia with the Raspberries

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a lot of fun. I didn't know we had wild raspberries around here. I went foraging for mushrooms last week but wasn't able to find anything good.