Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Wineberries and Chokeberies

Some of the more exotic fruits from our soft fruit patch today. Pride of place goes to the Japanese Wineberry. I just love how the fruits look before the berry emerges, like insectivorous sundew plants with their red hairs tipped with droplets of sap. But they unfurl to reveal a true gem inside.
This plant was only planted last year, so there's just enough fruit for me to nibble on as I potter around. But what a delicious taste - a delicate sweetness subtly balanced by an equally delicate sharpness. You can tell it's from the raspberry family, but it's different enough to be worth cultivating separately. One drawback, apparently, is that it's not supposed to be fully hardy, but it seems to be flourishing, even after the winter we've just had.

My second item of exotica is my chokeberry bush.
Supposedly it grows to a height of about 2m, but at the moment it's little more than a small cluster of twigs, yet still it has managed to produce three clusters of berries. Just imagine how many there will be when the plant is fully grown.

The plant does not have the most appealing of names, so maybe I should call it my Aronia bush, to use the Latin name.
Intrigued by what these berries would taste like, Sue and I tried one each, like two fairytale characters plucking fruits and waiting to find out if they are poisonous.

The first taste was very reminiscent of blueberry, but then a mouth puckering dryness like the most potent of sour sweets. I assumed that they weren't quite ripe yet, but running some basic searches reveals that this is how they are supposed to taste, and that they are not a berry to be eaten raw! That astringency is caused by the tannins in the fruit.

The good news, though, is that they can be used for jams, jellies, syrups... They are also very much favoured by the birds, so we will have to share them once the bush grows big enough for a decent yield..

Wednesday 15th August 2012
This is why I get up early.

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