Many Yukoners are making a concerted effort to eat local…. One of the best ways to eat local: berry picking.
Late summer and early fall are the best picking times. You can find northern gooseberries, lowbush cranberries, high bush cranberries, saskatoons, soapberries, bear berries, northern black currants, black gooseberries, wild blueberries, mossberries, rose hips, raspberries and, if you’re lucky, the oh so wonderful cloudberries (also called salmon berries)…
You can also find delicious haskaps at the Yukon Berry Farms and Circle D Ranch. They are the earliest berries to ripen so best to check in for picking dates and times. What’s a haskap? Check out this great link.
What do you need to berry pick? A container with a lid, warm clothing, bugspray, lunch and VERY IMPORTANT: a whistle and bear spray. Remember: you aren’t the only creatures foraging for winter. Berry picking is so convivial, you will find yourself chatting and laughing as you search for treasures. And that chatting and laughing is important! Be sure to make noise and to be aware of your surroundings, not just of your next cache of berries. Need to learn more about bears? Check out our blog here.
Don’t know where to start? You can start right close to town with lowbush cranberries… delicious additions to muffins and the secret ingredient to the best Thanksgiving cranberry sauce ever! They are in the photo above. Look for them below birch and spruce trees, growing through the moss. They are super easy to pick with children: there are no thorns and they are only 2 inches from the ground. There is only one thing to look out for. You or your children might mistake them for kinnikkinnick. Kinnikkinnick are bright red too and they grow on tiny little bushes just like the cranberries, but, inside they are white and mealy. They are edible, they just don’t taste very good. A few mixed in won’t do any harm. But if you have too many your sauce or muffins will be tasteless.
You can simply start picking in the hills behind Riverdale or around the trails in Porter Creek and Whistlebend. As you feel more comfortable, head up to Fish Lake only 20 minutes from Whitehorse. Mt MacIntyre is a favourite location and you will be rewarded with a great view as well as berries!
Once there has been a frost or two, then the berries are the sweetest and juiciest. Even if you only manage a couple of cups, save these sweet/sour morsels for our Thanksgiving sauce guidelines below.
Lowbush Cranberry Thanksgiving Sauce Guidelines
Pour a cup or two of low bush cranberries in a pot
Add orange juice or apple juice or water
Sweeten to taste with brown sugar, maple syrup or sugar
Some people add cinnamon or orange peel