Book Reviews of Wild Edible Fruits & Berries.

1. "The 42 species covered include such well known ones as blackberries, huckleberries, and elderberries; while less well known ones include manzanita, twisted stalk, fairy bells, and orange honeysuckle. Many of the species are indigenous to the Pacific Northwest (and in some cases, the east coast), while a few occur continent-wide. A color photo (about 3" x 4") is included for each plant. Following is a sample entry:

{Crowberry, Heatherberry
  Empetrum nigrum

Incredible as it may seem, we first spotted this elusive plant from our car window while traveling 50 miles per hour. A low-growing, 2 to 6 inch, freely branching evergreen shrub, the Crowberry resembles heather. Tiny, glossy, needlelike leaves, 1/8 to 1/2 inch long, grow alternately or whorled. During June and July, Crowberry has a very small purple bloom. We found the blue-black, round berries still ripe in late September.

Crowberry grows in moist, rocky, open, coastal areas, and in peat bogs. The distribution is circumpolar, from Alaska to Greenland to Siberia, south to northwestern California, and east to the Atlantic; also in Europe and in Chile. It grows sparingly along the coastline in the Pacific states, and on Mount Rainer, Washington.

Crowberry is reported to be a vital survival food for the Eskimo. It is edible raw or cooked.}

"The nine page recipe section gives ones for beverages (3), cakes and muffins (2), candy and desserts (3), jams and jellies (7), pies (2), relishes and meat sauces (3), and syrups (4). Here are some examples:

Black-Raspberry or Blackcap Dessert

For a quick treat, we like to use fresh blackcaps tossed with fruit gelatin and cream. use any berry-flavored gelatin (raspberry is our choice) and prepare according to the directions on the package. Before it has completely set, fold in a cup of whipped cream or topping and 2 cups berries. Place in the refrigerator until set. For the large-size package of gelatin, double the amount of cream and berries.

Unbaked Blackberry Pie

4 cups blackberries                 1/3 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar                           2 tbs. lemon juice
1 cup water (or juice drained from frozen berries)

Crush 1 cup berries, blend sugar, cornstarch and water, and add to berries. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining berries and lemon juice. Pour into baked pie shell [or use graham crumb crust]. Top with whipped cream or other prepared toppings. (You can use blueberries, but decrease the sugar to 1/2 cup.)


The easiest way to make puree for candy, jam, fruit soup or dessert is to put raw berries, either fresh or frozen, into a blender; then, if the seeds are large, rub through a sieve. With some firm fruit such as apples, cherries and rose hips, cook the fruit slightly with a very small amount of water. If possible, avoid cooking most berries, to hold fresh flavor and save precious vitamins.

(Julie Summers, Coltsfoot, vol. 14, no. 5, Sept./Oct. 1993)