Berries, Berries Everywhere

Everything you want to know about the fruits that are likely growing on your block.

Mulberries doin’ what they do best.

We’ve all been there before: you’re walking through your neighborhood on a glorious summer afternoon and you stumble upon a tree whose branches are drooping with fruit or dropping Jackson Pollock splats on the sidewalk. Your mouth starts to water–you can almost imagine the *squish* of the berry between your teeth and the bright, sweet juice coating your tongue…but then you start to wonder, “Can I eat this? Will it kill me?” We’re certainly not local foraging experts, but there are at least two berries that we know you can pluck to your heart’s content: Mulberries and Saskatoons (and if you’re a Tomato Mountaineer, you got both in your most recent CSA box!).

Mulberries (pictured at the top of the page): If you didn’t gorge yourself purple on these as a child, there’s no time like the present to get started. Mulberries look like elongated blackberries and grow on trees all around the world. Related to figs and breadfruit, Mulberry trees were originally grown because their leaves are the only food silkworms like. The berries themselves present at numerous stages of ripeness throughout the tree, ranging from white (unripe!) to red (tart but not too shabby!) to deep purple (good, sweet eatin’!). They’re packed with Vitamins C, E, and K1 as well as iron, potassium, and multiple antioxidants. These little sweeties are great eaten on their own but also make great jams, shrubs, tarts, and pies.

Good lookin’ and good eatin’

Saskatoon berries (pictured above): Also known as serviceberry, juneberry, prairie berry (we love a rhyme), and shadbush. The name Saskatoon is derived from the Cree word misâskwatômina (Mis-sack-qua-too-mina) which means “the fruit of the tree of many branches.” You’ll find Saskatoon berry trees planted throughout the city for aesthetic purposes, but that doesn’t mean the juicy little fruits can’t also decorate your palate! Though they fall in the Rose family and look very much like blueberries, Saskatoon berries are most closely related to apples (and they kinda taste like them too!). Like apples, they continue to ripen after being picked, so the sooner you eat them/jam them/bake them, the better!

Ready to forage your city for these two beauties? Learn how to best identify a Mulberry tree here and a Saskatoon berry tree here.

As Alexis Nikole Nelson (aka Blackforager aka our guiding light in foraging) says: “Happy snacking, don’t die!”