Summer Harvest: Manzanita and Gooseberry
Manzanita and Gooseberry
I’ve been learning from Grayson Coney, cultural director of the Tsi-Akim Maidu, how to most efficiently collect manzanita. It seems that a thin basket slid under the berries while you pick works well to minimize dead leaves and twigs. Timing is everything and the earlier you collect the berries (when the first blush of red appears), the fewer twigs you’ll need to sift out. A secret trick of Grayson’s is using a fan on low speed, while pouring the berries from one container to another, to remove unwanted leaves and twigs.
Spread the manzanita berries out on a tarp to dry in the sun for a few days and then turn into sugar or store for later use.
I love this guava-tasting berry. How wonderful to live in the Sierra Nevada and be able to enjoy something so akin to a tropical fruit.
I was intimidated by the spines for years, but this year I finally overcame my trepidation and learned the proper harvesting and processing techniques. Farrell Cunningham, Mountain Maidu, just places a basket under the ripe fruit and gently hits the stem with a stick. The ripe berries fall into the basket and the green ones stay on the bush. There isn’t even a need for gloves.
To make into a raw, fresh juice, just place berries into a bowl and press with a potato masher until they have popped.
Pour cold water over the berries into another bowl, using the same water until you have a deep orange-pink juice, even tastier than the commercially popular guava juice.