This is a feature for a couple ‘superfoods’ that I have been working with and learning more about in the past 4 months or so, and it’s been awhile since I had a write up for any of the ethno-botanical foods in my habitat, that I frequented more in my domestic years, so this one is about two different berries that I have come to use in my diet, and for my hygeine and health, that I will share some inside information about.
Haskaps a.k.a. blue honeysuckle, or honeyberry is are genetically native to Russia and Japan, and grow in a pretty varied basket of cultivars. The Ainu persons of Japan have used this berry for a long time, and gave it the name. It’s relatively new on North American shelves but some health food distros may have some. It is amped with more potassium, calcium, vitamin E, vitamin C, iron and phosphorous than apples, oranges, grapes and blueberries, and the energy kcal is more potent, so I like to have them with a thick porridge in the morning, or neat as a juice. They are extremely high in anti-oxidants and other flavonoids like Ferulic acid, Caffeic Acid, Ellagitannins, and Quercetin. They mash into some pretty sweet jams and chutneys, and distill to make strong gin or vodka, they can be sundried or frozen, and they survive harsh winters, while blooming in -10. They can also be grown from culture. If you can find a Japanese grocery store, you could find some Haskaps, and they are even more creative with their products.
Seabuckthorn a.k.a. Seaberries are a shrub grown mostly throughout Scandinavia, Siberia, Germany, Tibet and coastal Maritimes. They can only be harvested every two years. This one is making ground in the U.S. as a permaculture crop. They can tolerate salt in the air or soil! and grow well in sandy areas like beaches. They used to be a remedy for horses by their soliders for weight gain, and for coat health. It is one of the only berry plants that have protein in the leaves, and also stocks a fair amount of fiber, carotenids, amino acids, and vitamins. It has natural sugar alcohols, so there is potential for wine or moonshine stilling. The oils are skin medicine, and the berry is high in plant sterols. It is also a nitrogen fixer, and has strong roots for soil strength. It can survive arctic temperatures, and harvest comes right before the winter freeze. They can repair blood and metabolism problems, as well as caridiac and pulmonary issues. The pressed berries when put in a jar separates in three layers, each layer serves a different purpose. The top layer of orange cream for skin treatment, the middle layer for edibles because it is high in unsaturated fats, and the bottom for juice. The berries are quite sour when raw, but there is a process called ‘bletting’ which is frosting them to reduce their astringent flavor. They can be malolactically fermented to sweeten them which changes the alchemy of the acid. The cream from the berry even protects astronauts from radiation, so why not use it here down on earth, where in our toxic world, we need any natural medicines we can use. I live near an abandoned sea buckthorn farm, one of few in the west, but unfortunately it is still too early for me to reap the fruits.