Adding berry picking to your fall visit to Alaska, will give you stories to take home as well as a sweet treat to enjoy. During your stay with Our Alaskan Dream, you will find that there are many, sweet treats made from the local berries. Which include fresh made Jams and Jellies added to your breakfast choices, as well as made from scratch breads for an afternoon pick me up.
Alaska berry picking is akin to beach combing. It is very addictive. If you’ve ever had a blueberry pie made with fresh blueberries than you know what I mean. Blueberries, Salmonberries, Raspberries and many other berries are all over Alaska. With nearly 50 types of berries in Alaska, most of which are edible, it is no wonder that the fruit has been a mainstay of the Alaska Native diet for centuries. Alaska berry picking brings out Alaskans in droves to their favorite spots. In Alaska there are plenty of berries to go around and you can go picking all you want. Remember, bears also love berries and they have the right-of-way. Sing, make noise or wear bear bells so they hear you coming!
The edibility of some depends upon the maturity of the plant. Highbush cranberries are tastier before maturity, while others, like northern red currant, are tastier afterward.
Crowberries and alpine bearberries are among the berries that look tasty all the time, but, in fact, never are — at least not off the plant. Keep in mind that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t good to eat.
Crowberries, for instance, are good for pies and jellies, and bearberries can be mixed with other berries as an ‘extender’ in pies. This is worth noting because crowberries, which grow on a low, green, shrub-like plant, are often plentiful and untouched in the Anchorage area. They are also said to be best when picked after a good frost.
The Alaska berry picking season is anywhere from late August to late September. Very sweet in taste they are far superior to their cultivated cousins. Wild blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, niacin, manganese, carbohydrates, and dietary fibre. They also contain little sodium or fat. Generally higher elevation produce sweeter berries. Blueberries get very dark (near black) when they are ripe and about to fall. That is the best time to pick due to taste and sweetness.
Salmonberries ripen in early August. On moist, sunny slopes in Alaska, the Salmonberry plants can form impenetrable thickets. They are a close cousin of the raspberry. The juicy fruit, which looks like a yellow or orange blackberry, is a welcome trailside snack, though too bland for some tastes. Native Alaskans ate not only the berries but also the tender young shoots. Numerous birds and animals also feast on the fruits, which may be abundant in good years. The deep pink flowers are distinctive and may occur along with the fruits
The Raspberry is a plant that produces a tart, sweet, red composite fruit in late summer or early autumn. The fruit is not a true berry but a cluster of drupelets around a central core. Very small, but very tasty. An Alaska Berry Picking favorite.
Crowberries are common in bogs and alpine meadows. Very bland raw, but sweetened in a pie, incredible! The crowberry is similar in appearance to a blueberry. It is a light green, mat forming shrub which grows in areas similar to that of the partridgeberry. The Inuit, of which these berries are a staple, call them, “Fruit of the North”. Their flowers, male, female, or both sexes are purple-crimson, inconspicuous, and appear May to June. The season usually begins in July and lasts until the first snow. They are almost completely devoid of natural acid and their sweet flavor generally peaks after frost. Crowberries are extremely high in vitamin C, approximately twice that of blueberries.
If berry picking is on your agenda, ask us, we can direct you to some places to find the berries, (as well as beautiful hike), the books needed to make safe choices of berries, as the bells, so announce your intention while out sharing the mountain side with what is there.