Tuesday, July 1, 2014

I'm so blue-ue-ue-ue-ue, I'm so blue I don't know what to do!

Old McChristie had a farm, EIEIO. 
And on that farm she had a haskap, EIEIO. 
With a blue berry here and a tart berry there, 
     here a berry, there a berry, everywhere a honey berry.
Old McChristie had a farm, EIEIO.

My haskaps grew so much this year that I'm starting to wonder what I've gotten myself into with all this perennial fruit in my yard! I've probably picked close to 8 cups thus far and these haskap bushes will get MUCH bigger than their current size over the next few years. I hope by the time they get too much to handle, my boys will be old enough for a little bribery to entice them to pick the berries for me. :)

What's a haskap, you ask? Well, let me enlighten you.

Haskaps are a bush in the honeysuckle family that bear blue berries (you may have figured the "blue" part out by now...). I believe the original plants were from Siberia so they're intended for cold climates. I liken the taste of the berries to be like a tart blueberry - kind of like the difference between an Evans cherry and a Bing cherry. They're pretty easy to grow, but if you want fruit, you'll need two different breeds for cross-pollination. The ones you pick up at the greenhouse aren't that great - I have 2 bushes in the backyard that came from the greenhouse and the harvest is piddly compared to what I'm already getting from my front yard plants! Here are the ones you want to look for: 
1) Borealis is kind of squishy and a little sweeter so it's good for fresh eating. 
2) Tundra is a little tougher, but they grow insanely low to the ground so they are tough to pick. 
3) Berry Blue or Berry Smart Blue make a great pollinator.

The only drawback in my opinion to these tasty little gems is that they hang from the underside of the branches, making them very difficult to pick. In fact, the "tundra" plants seem to be quite flat bushes, and a lot of the berries are right along the ground. I find myself doing some new and interesting yoga moves in my attempt to get all the berries off the bush. If you're feeling old and decrepit or your knees crackle like a fire on a winter's day, I recommend getting raspberries instead!

They do make for tasty baking! My middle son thought there was jam in the muffins I made with the berries the other day. Nope, no jam my dear, just fresh haskaps! If the current picking of berries makes it beyond tomorrow morning, I'm going to try them in the dehydrator. Best berries ever!


Anonymous said...

how many hascap bushes gave you 8 cups?

Christie said...

That was 4 bushes - I planted them... 3 (?) years ago when they were just a single stick each, and now they are a couple feet around. The Berry Blue at my in-laws' place is almost 6 feet around and give OODLES of berries.