Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Berries

Greenbank Farm native plant garden path
Summer 2021

Wild berries at Greenbank Farm

Nancy Hindes often finds wild creeping raspberries while walking along the road in front of her home south of Coupeville on Washington’s Whidbey Island.

“It grows along the ground. It’s not a very dominant plant, but I think it really likes gravelly soil, and that’s why it grows right next to the road,” she says, cautioning those unfamiliar with the wild plant to take care. “It will trip you.”

In summer, she keeps an eye out for its bright red fruit. “It’s one of the best raspberries I’ve ever eaten. It’s very sweet and very flavorful. When I see it, I’ll stop and have a … » More …

Summer 2021

More wild berries

Numerous wild berries can be found in summer and fall around Washington state. Here are more varieties to look for.

Read about wild berries in the Pacific Northwest.

Black chokeberries (Aronia melanocarpa)—A great natural source of pectin, these tart, dark berries are perfect for processing into jam and jelly.

Black hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii)—These tart reddish purple berries—best in jam, jelly, sauce, and vinegar—are prevalent west of the Cascade Range in damp clearings and thicket margins.

Black huckleberries (Vaccinium membranaceum)—These are among the tastiest and most popular berries in the Pacific Northwest.

Blackcap raspberries (Rubus leucodermis)—Unlike blackberries, these berries have a hollow middle, like … » More …

Summer 2021

The secret life of huckleberries

Matt Carroll studies people’s connections to land, particularly fire risk and human communities throughout the West. But he’s also researched an important Washington state staple: the wild huckleberry.

He’s a professor and associate director of graduate programs in the School of the Environment at Washington State University’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. While most of his work centers around wildfires, he has also examined the social ecology of the huckleberry in and around the Colville and Panhandle National Forests in northeast Washington and northern Idaho.

Huckleberries have a very deep history in our region,” Carroll says. “Indigenous people … » More …

Blackberry stalk
Summer 2021

Bullying blackberries

The blackberries are not what they seem.

They seem native, growing wild wherever they want, thriving along riverbanks, roads, railroad tracks, and trails; inside state, county, even Seattle city parks.

These abundant berries—great for pie and jam—are synonymous with summer in Washington state, particularly on the west side, where they take over greenbelts and backyards, abandoned lots, urban alleyways, and logged lands.

They grow, as it were, like weeds.

Emphasis on weeds.

Himalayan blackberries (Rubus armeniacus) are not only not native, they’re invasive. And they’re not actually Himalayan.

Call them the state weed of Washington. The plump, juicy, deep purple, and delicious weed of Washington.

» More …

Huckleberries
Fall 2018

The huckleberry

In the shadowy spaces and the sunny clearings of high Northwest forests, the huckleberry waits for an eager human or bear in the late summer. Imbued with an intense sweet-sour flavor, this coveted wild treat might peek out from its glossy leaves in a jealously-protected secret location, but it will be sought and often found.

Seekers of the huckleberry—whether they are Native Americans, more recent residents of the area, or the berry-loving grizzly and black bears—hunt incessantly for the deep purple to red fruit. Even if they aren’t pickers, any Northwesterner or visitor would still find it hard to miss the huckleberry jams, shakes, pies, … » More …

Fall 2018

Recipes: Huckleberries

Huckleberries work in many ways that really showcase the Northwest iconic wild berry in dishes. Check out a couple of recipes below from the Wild Huckleberry website. You can find more recipes at the Marx Foods website.

 

Pan-Seared Salmon with Huckleberry Sauce

 

4 salmon fillets2 tablespoons olive oilSalt and pepper1/3 cup of water1 cup fresh huckleberries1 tablespoon of sugar1 lemon, juiced¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped

 

Heat skillet over high heat.  Add olive oil.  Salt and pepper both sides of salmon fillets.  When pan is hot add fillets, skin side down.  Sear for approximately 4 minutes per side.  … » More …

Concord grapes—primarily a Vitus labrusca (fox grape) cultivar. Courtesy NGWI
Summer 2013

Juice Grapes

I should point out right up front that I haven’t tried unfermented grape juice in a long, long time. In fact, the last time I had it may have been as a teenager during communion at our teetotaling church, where grape juice was our “wine.”

So it’s intriguing now decades later how familiar the taste is as I sip a glass of Concord grape juice, most likely grown—in spite of the Massachusetts address on the bottle—in the Yakima Valley.

Familiar, and also quite delicious. Full-bodied, not too sweet, with a pleasing astringency and a distinctly Concord flavor that Craig Bardwell ’84 refers to as “foxy.” … » More …

Fall 2012

Summer Blues

In 1944, when Glenn Aldrich was 12, he helped his father carry blueberry plants into an old sheep pasture next to their home. The family then planted the first commercial blueberries in Lewis County and some of the first in the state.

Maybe it was fate, says Aldrich ’58, ’62, but somehow his father had found the perfect crop for the soft acid soils along the Cowlitz River. The berries flourished there in Mossyrock, a pretty pocket of the valley.

Sixty-eight years later those berry bushes tower over Aldrich. In the intervening years, he has added some 20 more acres, spent time in the Air … » More …