A few years back, while on a walk, I spotted a wild-looking viney shrub bearing clusters of some-sort-of-something. Audrey Jr., from Little Shop of Horrors, came to mind. The clusters contained multitudes of hairy and intimidating-looking shells. The next day (or so) what looked like itty-bitty raspberries began to emerge from the hairy shells. I tasted one; it was super tart. “Wow. Cool. I’ll let them ripen a bit and in a few days I will come back with a bowl and pick them.” A day or two goes by and I return only to find that the birds have have picked the vines clean. No berries, just clusters of small white hulls. That’s the way it goes with wineberries.
Wineberry or wine raspberry, Rubus phoenicolasius, is the wild and wooly invasive cousin of the more cultivated raspberry. Wineberries are ideal for neophyte foragers because there are no poisonous look-alikes in our area; all brambleberries (red and black raspberries and blackberries) are edible. Forage on!
Just like their more polished brambly relatives, wineberries are ideally suited for cobblers, crisps, pies, smoothies, sorbets and other sweet treats. Our favorite wineberry recipes? Let’s start with Edible East End’s Wineberry-Blackberry-Apple Crumble, Erica-Lynn Huberty’s Wineberry Jam, Wineberry Coffee Cake from justapinch.com, Ian Knauer’s Wineberry Cordial, Wineberry Jelly from kitchen-apparel.com and a gluten-free Wineberry Tart with toasted almond crust from yumuniverse.com.
Berry photo by Milo-Pyne, courtesy of NatureServe.