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What's your favorite native/wild fruit to harvest and eat?

 
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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It can't get much better than harvesting free and no effort fruit.

We have lots of wild blackberries around here, and during the summer they produce loads of tasty and flavorful berries. These are probably my favorite. They can be eaten fresh or made into wonderful treats!

I've also found a wild peach tree that was really good and a mulberry tree that I haven't tasted yet, but hope to very soon this summer.

We don't have that much wild fruit growing around here that I've seen, and it seems like few people around here even grow fruit anymore, but hopefully that will soon change!

What types of native or wild fruit do you have growing near you and what is your favorite?
 
pollinator
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Wild blackberries and blueberries, no doubt!  Blackberries are good most anywhere, but those little "buckshot" blueberries that grow on almost bare rock in the mountains are such a rare and wonderful treat.... beyond that, wild grapes, feral apples, cherries and pawpaws… and the rare gooseberry that survived eradication... mulberries sometimes and elderberries.... cedar/juniper berries.. It all grows all around me... but, blackberries are the most common and easy to find
 
pollinator
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The raspberries that grow in disturbed areas high in the mountains of the Southwest are my fave.
 
gardener
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It's pretty special to get to the coastal area of Texas for citrus. Particularly kumquats. I just finished them off today.

Locally it's dewberries (wild blackberries).
 
pollinator
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Any berries pretty much make my hike. My favorites are thimbleberries, black cap raspberries, and the 9 types of blue/huckleberries that grow in the Olympic Mtns. Some are big, black and taste like a deep red wine, others are little and blue and taste like apples and pears. I picked my quart a day often as a backcountry ranger, and my memory and balance were all the better for it. Had to have some purple mouthed bear can conversations though.
 
Wj Carroll
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Oh, and persimmons after a frost… and prickly pear cactus.  
 
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Saskatoons are my favorite, there Is not a wide variety of wild fruits that grow in any amounts to make it worth while picking around here so Saskatoons are by far the best and easiest to pick.

This year was actually a great year for them and it looked like grape clusters hanging off of the trees it was amazing how many were there this year.
20190717_202123.jpg
full of saskatoons like grape clusters
 
Wj Carroll
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Oh, and passion fruit!
 
Steve Thorn
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Wj Carroll wrote:Oh, and passion fruit!



I found a good wild patch last year and look forward to hopefully trying some this year!
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
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Such great fruit listed so far! I love hearing about what fruit is growing wild in different areas and what everyone's favorites are.

Keep em coming!
 
pollinator
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my favorites are the ones i have access to! blackcaps (black raspberries, not to be confused with blackberries), blackberries, persimmons and pawpaws around home. sometimes wild muscadines. loads of wild blueberries in the high country around here, too. i know there's a local patch of maypops but i haven't found it yet.
 
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Persimmons for sure!

We have not found a good grove or even single trees within range here (I did plant a lot of seeds along the edges here though...no signs yet) but at our old place had several groupings around the forty acres that we wore paths to over the season and kept mowed underneath, beginning as early as late august some years but always in September on through December and there was one tree that held onto the fruit as it dried so could pick it right off the tree over the winter if the raccoons did not discover them first.

Our beagle loved to go also and ate as many as she could ahead of us.

We checked every day and then did a couple trunk bumps in order to get the rest...always slight difference in flavors...some more butterscotchy and others almost date flavored.

Besides eating dozens every day we dehydrated them whole with the seeds...the seeds were easy to remove after drying and they didn't lose any flavor as they do when cooked.  Once I froze them whole and that was wonderful also...full flavor persimmon pops!

I miss them
 
gardener
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Location: South of Capricorn
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I love to grab fruit wherever I can, but probably my favorite is that terrible time of year when for whatever reason, limes are ridiculously expensive.... I know a few places where "wild" (abandoned) mandarin lime trees grow in the forgotten corners of a few parks, and I go and fill myself a bag. The trees are covered with brutal thorns and most people can't be bothered with trekking to the forest to where a house used to be.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rangpur_(fruit)

If I'm not busy trying to thwart the economy, my truly favorite foraged fruit is the strawberry guava. You can't buy them, but they make fabulous jam if you can gather enough.
 
pollinator
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Do fruiting bodies count?

Oh I love foraging berries on hikes. The tiny wild blueberries that come up after a clearcut with the raspberries and blackberries are some of the most labour-intensive to gather and clean, but also the most worthwhile. I also love Saskatoonberries, wild strawberries, alpine strawberries, and before I developed an allergy, purple, yellow, and red plums, and a few different types of cherries from the orchard of an abandoned farm near the old cottage were some of my favourites.

But my absolute, hands-down favourite foraged fruit would have to be the fruiting bodies of the chanterelle. We'd gather them in season after damp weather and make omelets, though these days I'd make a cream of chanterelle soup.

-CK
 
Wj Carroll
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Steve Thorn wrote:

Wj Carroll wrote:Oh, and passion fruit!



I found a good wild patch last year and look forward to hopefully trying some this year!



You definitely will in eastern NC - that is where my family is from.  I found a nice patch a couple of years ago in Brunswick County
 
Posts: 350
Location: London, UK
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Mulberries!   They have a deep fruity juiciness....so much so that even gently picking them can easily burst these delicate berries i.e. can be a messy business!

I also love elderberries when made into a cordial i.e. not raw.  Elderberry wine is my fav wine - a lovely way to get the antioxidants! 🤪
 
pollinator
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We don't get too many fruits that are worth picking really

Blackberries (fairly uncommon)
Raspberries (very seedy and often dry)
Wild strawberries (lovely but never very many)
Wild cherries (normally horribly sour)
Elder (not great straight off the tree)
Hawthorn (very boring)
Rowen (bitter)
Rose hips (fiddly!)
Bilberries (blueberries smaller cousin oddly unproductive here compared to Scotland)
Sea buckthorn (If you can snack on these you've not got a tastebud left!)

Cloudberries are lovely but way to rare to pick, they should be photographed and left alone.

Of the above I like blackberries best here, as they are the only one (fresh eating) you can get enough of to do much with Back in Scotland I would say bilberries as with a berry picker you could fill a bucket in under an hour, and they taste so good.
 
Posts: 664
Location: Australia, New South Wales. Köppen: Cfa (Humid Subtropical), USDA: 10/11
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Most of our native fruits tend to be on the acidic side - even the 'native raspberry' is acidic , so am REALLY envious of you guys with those sweet juicy berries!

With the recent bushfires and drought, all native foods are hard to come-by for humans, and most would leave it there for the wildlife anyway because they're harder hit by the circumstances.

The only natives I regularly like (and grow) are Macadamia Nuts and Finger Limes - lots of dense nutrients but again, nothing sweet. [There's always the old bushies trick of using a Bottle Brush (Callistemon) or Banksia flower and swishing it in some water for a sweet drink, but I'm not that needy yet!]

 
pollinator
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Wild plums grow very well here in Ireland, they aren't the sweetest but it's nice to see a big crop.
 
gardener
Posts: 2007
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Nettles!  Not fruit but so tasty and nutritious, and such abundance where I am..

Hawthorne "berries" may be 'boring' but they are great for the circulatory system, and can be added to tea, herbal or otherwise, can be added to a batch of  jelly if you make jelly!  I make vinegar from fruit, and think maybe next year I will add hawthorne to the fermenting juice.

And the last great NATIVE thing around here: CHOKE CHERRIES

We do have plenty of apricot trees (escaped from civilization) around here, and we usually have tons of them,only lose them to a late frost once in a while.
 
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We harvest a bunch of wild foods, but the favorite by a good bit is the wild plums. They make an amazing jelly/jam that people routinely ask for.
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
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I can't believe I forgot about muscadine grapes!

They can be found very common along the edges of forests here.

Here's a picture of one growing along the forest edge in my yard.
Wild-black-muscadines-growing-along-the-forest-edge.jpg
Wild black muscadines growing along the forest edge
Wild black muscadines growing along the forest edge
 
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We have a wild sweet cherry tree that ripens around the same time as wild blackberries... mixed berry pie is my fav!! They're not as sweet as store bought cultivars but are still pretty tasty right off the tree.
 
Noel Young
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Pictures to go with above post.
20190615_165936.jpg
wild cherries & cat
wild cherries & cat
IMG_20190707_131042_056.jpg
cherry pie
cherry pie
 
pollinator
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My favorite wild fruit to harvest is the Chickasaw plum! I have scores of them on some land I lease and manage for deer. They make the best jelly and pies, and they aren't bad fresh either!
 
pollinator
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Great fun thread! I’ve tried a lot of rose hips in the Western States and most were pithy, waxy, seedy, or bland but on Orcas Island I found one clump of sweet, soft, and delicious hips I still crave 30 years later. I saw mention of the huckleberries of the Olympic Penninsula mountains. What a treat for a weary hiker!! Black beary heaven.
Another extremely hardy fruit is the red raspberry. In the mountains beyond Fairbanks I found a clump that was a sight for sore eyes. Lots of wonderful huckleberries there also but more in the low lands.
Where I live in Washington most of the time I’d say my favorite is the thimbleberry. But my favorite is really whatever is in front of me. I’m surprised to see only brief mention of wild strawberries. So much fun to discover. I like how they make one get close to the ground and land.
 
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Amy Francis wrote:Mulberries!   They have a deep fruity juiciness....so much so that even gently picking them can easily burst these delicate berries i.e. can be a messy business!

I also love elderberries when made into a cordial i.e. not raw.  Elderberry wine is my fav wine - a lovely way to get the antioxidants! 🤪





I like the mulberries just before they are
fully ripe. Just a great tart flavor!
 
Posts: 75
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Every year I look forward to harvesting blackberry, wine raspberry, and autumn olive.  My FAVORITE is wild blueberries; sadly, they are few and far between compared to when I was a child.  I LOVE foraging!!
 
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Mushrooms are plentiful here morels, oysters, corals, sulfers, shaggy makes are some of my favs. Always makes me think of an Easter egg hunt with God. Also have many of the fruits others mentioned.  Here in north Michigan there are many sites of old homesteads where I love to ramble. Those old folks also planted edible flowers primarily which can be another treasure to forage.
 
pollinator
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Around here, for me, it is mushrooms on our poplars, the Oyster mushrooms grow in such abundance that I've canned 52 quarts a couple of years back. On 7 acres, only 2 of them in cultivation, we don't have a lot of wild things in our little forest. I encourage wild cherries. They are a bit tart, but really not bad, and we've made a lot of jelly from just 2 specimens who seem to give better than the others. I'm planning to coppice a large one and force a weeping form. Not sure if I will be successful, but I'm practicing. I can use the trimming for smoking meat.
We probably have hundreds of wild cherry trees, but not all of them are worth harvesting. I leave the not-so-good-ones to the birds and the chickens.
Mulberries are on their northern fringe [zone 4] so they need a little encouragement. I grew my 26 bushes/trees from seeds, so I guess you could call them "wild".
Everything else, I bought and planted, so I can't claim they are "wild". They are a little far out, like aronias. but not "wild".
 
pollinator
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Living in the Mountain of NH we are lucky to find all sorts of wild edibles. The most abundant are wild blueberries, both low and high bush varieties. We even have some wild blackberries and raspberries growing right on our property. We go to low areas that get flooded by the rivers in the spring to gather fiddlehead ferns, and to bogs to gather wild cranberries in the fall. Mother earth is generous.
 
pioneer
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As Jeremy said above :)  What is in front of me rules the moment.  One thing I miss from when I was younger were the many wild yellow and red plums that grew along the roadside around my Grandmother's home.  And from our farm, I miss the hundreds of huge persimmons from an old tree that also made for great food fights when my brother, sister, and I would run a stick through the ripe persimmons and fling them at each other.  They smashed and splatted much better than crumbly horse biscuits ^.^  We also had a scuppernong arbor and wild concord grapes growing through the trees.  Reading a book in a tree while eating wild grapes.  One of my best memories ever.  The grape skins would make the inside of your mouth feel funny but couldn't stop eating them until they were out of reach.  Nope.
 
pollinator
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Back in the spring of 2019, I collected several pints of mulberries along a bike path. They are currently frozen in my freezer, but I should have time to make jam out of them in the next two months.
21D724B3-1D8C-4CEB-A625-AAAAF0D0D156.jpeg
wild mulberries in a bowl
E47C9F17-C305-43AF-8464-D598A487D66E.jpeg
two bowls of wild mulberries
FC70AE0F-C73C-4B1B-9CD6-5DCF0ED2A144.jpeg
washing wild mulberries in a strainer
5931F575-84DC-4A11-BB79-9A188B2FDF96.jpeg
wild mulberries in a bowl of water
Limbs-filled-with-wild-mulberries.jpeg
Limbs filled with wild mulberries
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
pollinator
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I don't know how I managed to forget this one: the Juneberry. [Amelanchier canadensis]
It makes as many berries as a blueberry, and looks somewhat the same but is never tart. It is an understory tree and because it keeps trying to go towards the light, it has a small trunk, rarely bigger than my wrist. So it can be bent way down while you are harvesting the berries. I started several times gathering them to make a pie... but came back home with blue fingers and blue lips. The seeds are tiny, so nothing to get caught in your teeth. they taste really good. If you have enough of them, you can make pies, drinks etc.
The advantage over blueberries is that you do not need to acidify the soil to get berries. If you protect the trunk, the deer will leave them alone. If not, the stags will rub mercilessly against them: They are just flexible enough that they can get a good rub of their horns...
Once the tree top gets out of their reach, they won't browse them.
 
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I harvested two buckets of wild plums that were small, golden-pink in color. They made a wonderful pink, slightly fizzy wine and delicious brandy.

Blackberries are always great but I'd like to give a shout out to the U.P. of Michigan where I was born and say thimble berries are sensational.
 
Wj Carroll
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BTW, common prickly pear cactus is kind of like bland kiwi... some improved varieties have more flavor.  But, If you torch them to remove the cactus spines, then juice them to remove the seeds and pulp... maybe add a little pomegranate juice.... amazing wine!  Also pretty awesome in sangria with red wine and citrus.  But, also good for just plain eating with some salt or hard cheese.  You can also add sugar and lemon, freeze and make a granita.
 
pollinator
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Wj Carroll wrote:BTW, common prickly pear cactus is kind of like bland kiwi... some improved varieties have more flavor.  But, If you torch them to remove the cactus spines, then juice them to remove the seeds and pulp... maybe add a little pomegranate juice.... amazing wine!  Also pretty awesome in sangria with red wine and citrus.  But, also good for just plain eating with some salt or hard cheese.  You can also add sugar and lemon, freeze and make a granita.


We've found incredible variety in the flavors of different prickly pear fruit in our area. One small spherical red-fruited variety tastes very much like a cross between cherries and strawberries! Another large pear-shaped purple variety is more bland, almost a little savory/salty, but cut in half and put in water with a piece of piloncillo sugar and maybe a cinnamon stick and a couple of dried chilis ferments to an incredible "soda" (very low alcohol content) called colonche that relies on wild yeasts. How do you make wine out of them, Wj Carroll? Do you pitch in wine yeast or rely on wild yeasts? The spineless kind seem to have the least flavor but are still refreshing, and anyway we grow those largely for the pads/nopales.

We've foraged wild grapes (Vitis arizonica) near us, but the large volume of seeds in each small berry have something in them that numbs my tongue. Does anyone know what this could be? I don't like them and haven't figured out how to use them. I like juniper berries (especially in combination with spruce tips in a syrup for flavoring beverages). On the list to try to find are raspberries and blackberries in the mountains, elderberries closer to us, and managing to get any ripe mulberries before the birds. If nuts count, I'm focused on collecting Arizona black walnuts when they're green this summer to make nocino again as well as later in the year to eat.

Thanks for the great thread, Steve!
 
Wj Carroll
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Beth Wilder wrote:

Wj Carroll wrote:BTW, common prickly pear cactus is kind of like bland kiwi... some improved varieties have more flavor.  But, If you torch them to remove the cactus spines, then juice them to remove the seeds and pulp... maybe add a little pomegranate juice.... amazing wine!  Also pretty awesome in sangria with red wine and citrus.  But, also good for just plain eating with some salt or hard cheese.  You can also add sugar and lemon, freeze and make a granita.


We've found incredible variety in the flavors of different prickly pear fruit in our area. One small spherical red-fruited variety tastes very much like a cross between cherries and strawberries! Another large pear-shaped purple variety is more bland, almost a little savory/salty, but cut in half and put in water with a piece of piloncillo sugar and maybe a cinnamon stick and a couple of dried chilis ferments to an incredible "soda" (very low alcohol content) called colonche that relies on wild yeasts. How do you make wine out of them, Wj Carroll? Do you pitch in wine yeast or rely on wild yeasts? The spineless kind seem to have the least flavor but are still refreshing, and anyway we grow those largely for the pads/nopales.

We've foraged wild grapes (Vitis arizonica) near us, but the large volume of seeds in each small berry have something in them that numbs my tongue. Does anyone know what this could be? I don't like them and haven't figured out how to use them. I like juniper berries (especially in combination with spruce tips in a syrup for flavoring beverages). On the list to try to find are raspberries and blackberries in the mountains, elderberries closer to us, and managing to get any ripe mulberries before the birds. If nuts count, I'm focused on collecting Arizona black walnuts when they're green this summer to make nocino again as well as later in the year to eat.

Thanks for the great thread, Steve!



You have a good palate!  Most people don't get the subtleties at all.  Yes, I do use yeast.  
 
pollinator
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I can find Maypop if I look long enough but the easy to find is Oyster and Wood ear Mushrooms.
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