Wild Fruits of Summer
If you grow a garden or have access to a farmer’s market, the summer often brings an abundance of delicious fruits, from strawberries to melons. But the forgotten fruits of summer, are the gems of the wild. A few of my favorites include blackcap raspberries, manzanita, gooseberry and elderberry.
Growing easily in shaded areas of the woods and home landscape, identify this native raspberry by its white stem. Its berries are ripe when black and even more delicious than conventional garden raspberries. Its scientific name is Rubus leucodermis.
This drought-tolerant abundant shrub produces an abundance of sweet berries that are dry on the bush. Gather and roughly grind and then sift out the seeds to make a sweet powder useful as a sugar or flour, or cover the ground berries with water, steep for 2-4 hours and strain for a cold, antioxidant beverage that is a heritage food of California. There are many species of Manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.) throughout CA.
Popular throughout Europe as a beverage, flavoring and immune system strengthener, this dark purple berry has been neglected or cut down throughout its native CA habitat. Gather the pale yellow flowers for beverages and enjoy the berries when dark purple in color with a whitish bloom, cooked or dried.
Although the spines on the berries are intimidating, its worth getting over the fear to taste a fruit reminiscent of tropical guavas. Crush with a spoon or potato masher and cover with cold water to enjoy the juice.