Wild berries

Some of the most wonderful wild organic food comes in the form of berries.

We used to live on the Seymour River in North Vancouver. Come mid May, the summer run steel head would be moving in the river. Before the valley was opened up to the general public, I could get a free watershed pass and go up there fishing. The salmon berries would be ripe around that time- big and lush. They grew all along the trail to the first fishing hole. It would take me quite some time to get there, stuffed with salmon berries.

These berries are great to eat right off the bush, when on a hike. I have never gotten too exited about them or used them for any other purpose. To me , they were too watery and the flavor is mild. Yet people make juice or jam from them.

There are many other varieties of berries that appear along the trail.

Once, in northern BC in the Eagle Nest Range, along the Klappan River, we ran out of food, on a hunting trip. Next morning, one of the guys shot a mountain goat. For the next 5 days. We ate the goat and Crowberries, that grew in profusion on the alpine meadow, where we camped.

At that time, I didn't even know, what they were. We ate some, there was no ill effect, so we continued.

On our trips to northern BC, we came upon an old burn along the Stuart - Cassiar Road. It was about the size of greater Vancouver. We called it “the berry patch” because it was covered in blue berries - miles of them. We used to hunt grizzly there for obvious reasons.

At an other time, I ran into a vast expanse of wild raspberries, the likes of which I have never seen in the south.

Which berries to look for.

Out of the about 30 varieties of wild berries, that grow here on the Sunshine Coast in southern BC, I am interested in only about 3 or 4 kinds.

The reason for this is the super abundances of these particular berries. This makes it worth while, to go out and pick them in sufficient quantity to make jam or syrup or pies or whatever else you want to use them for.

The star of these is the black berry. I will discuss this gem on the next page.

The next one is not even a berry, It is the wild crab apple. You can find the trees here and there in old abandoned homesteads. We stumbled upon a bunch of them along one of the wild beaches around here. People once lived there. There are other signs of an abandoned orchard.

Crab apples have become one of my favorite foraging targets. These little apples are incredibly sour but they make an outstanding jelly and apple sauce.

The third one is the Billberry or Black Huckleberry. They grow here, high in the alpine areas of the mountains, in wild abandon.

Then there are Oregon Grape, Saskatoon Berries and Salal, which we sometimes pick, if they appear in sufficient quantities.

You are going to need a guide book to these berries. Get it at the store.


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