Still plenty of blackberries to harvest, so we get a bit every time we are in the area of the blackberry patch. The recent wet and warm weather has made some of the berries rot and some ferment on the canes, but there are still lots to pick. We also came across a nice patch of dewberries this week. Dewberries (Rubus eubatus) trail along the ground on a vine as opposed to growing on upright canes. They are also much smaller than most blackberries.
We finally came across some wintergreen while out letterboxing in the Salmon River State Forest. Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) has a very strong wintergreen odor in the leaves and the berry. The berries are still green, but will ripen to red in the autumn. Gillian really liked this small plant for it's minty taste.
Smooth sumac berries are ripening and getting wonderfully sour. We picked a bunch after the "lick-test" to determine which were ready. This requires us to lick each bunch before cutting it from the shrub. We added cold water and let the sumac sit for a few hours to make some sumac-ade. The staghorn sumac makes a deep red liquid, but the smooth sumac is much more abundant in this area. Dwarf sumac is still in the flower stage.
We visited Westerly, Rhode Island to scan the beaches for some Rosa rugosa rosehips, and were very happy to come away with about 12 pounds. They seem to be very early this year, and wonderfully worm-free. Robert cleaned out the seeds and inner hairs and I made one batch of jelly, and he is drying the rest for tea. The flavor of ripe, fresh rosehips is similar to apricots, fruity and tart.
We also came across an aberrant bush of autumn olive that was completely ripe. Most bushes still have hard, dark green, completely unripe berries at this time of year. We plan on making more jam later in the autumn, along with fruit leather.
Elderberries are ripening, and we tried a batch of jelly, but it failed. It has not jelled yet, so we can use it as an elderberry syrup. Robert also made some purslane pickles from the purslane growing in our tomato bed. He happily weeds out the grass, but leaves the purslane weeds to flourish along with the wood sorrel and orach.
We are leaving this weekend to go to New Brunswick, Maine for a letterboxing gathering. Party time! We are bringing some cattail pollen biscuits filled with wineberry jam, and ramps biscuits filled with roasted onion and ramp jam and kielbasa for the Friday night potluck. Yum! Robert is bringing some extra jams to sell, and if you hike with one of us, you can get a free and fun foraging lesson!