It’s that berry hunting time of year. The strawberries and the rhubarb may have finished up, but the blueberries and currants are on. And the raspberries are really starting to get thick.
Berry picking is so gratifying. Whether it involves a hike to the tundra to get low-bush blueberries or a boat ride across Kachemak Bay to find some coastal blueberries or even just a walk through your backyard finding what you have in your garden, it is a sign of prosperity.
The thing about berries is that they only come once a year. The true challenge is how to hold on to them for the rest of the year. This is where you get to dream about pies, smoothies, jams and jellies.
I know a lot of people who say that raspberry jam is their favorite. There are also those who are in the strawberry rhubarb camp. I can’t honestly say that I know of anybody who would consider fireweed their favorite jelly. But that matters not. The fact is fireweed jelly is so totally unique to this area and so absolutely beautiful in the jar that we have all bought it as the perfect sweet gift at some point.
It is one of those items that I will always buy at the Homer Farmers Market or from the online Alaska Food Hub long before I would ever consider making it. I simply am not dedicated enough to harvest a bazillion flowers (that might be a minor exaggeration, but you do need a lot of flowers).
No matter whether you are looking to try some haskap berries like the ones at Colleen Powers’s market booth or you are looking to put away your own berries, the Market is a great resource. Ask around at the different farmers and find out what their favorite recipes are or get your copy of the Market cookbook. Every farmer has experience preserving their surplus.
So check out www.alaskafoodhub.org or head on down to the Homer Farmers Market on Ocean Drive this Saturday from 10 a.m. a.m. to 3 p.m. or Wednesday from 2-5 p.m. and see what you can harvest.
Kyra Wagner is the coordinator of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers Market’s biggest fan.