Wild Edibles: Blueberries

Blueberry

We went for a hike this past weekend on Crown Land just south of the Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park.  Blueberries tend to be in season around Canada Day, but with some seasonal variation you just never know if you might be too early or too late to take advantage.  30 minutes into our hike, as the trail lead us out of the moist and shaded woods and up onto some exposed rock we found some blueberry plants at last.  Most of the berries were just tiny green nubs though.  We marched on.  We were about to sit down for lunch when we found a patch of blueberries that has been receiving a lot of sun.  We were in luck at last!  We collected berries in a coffee mug and after a few minutes we had all that we needed and settled down for lunch, saving the berries for dessert.

Cup full of blueberries

Cup full of blueberries for dessert

In our area blueberries tend to ripen in late June to mid July.  They can be found in dry, acidic soils and need some direct sunlight.  Find them near pine stands, edge of thickets, and in sandy soil.  Get to know this low deciduous shrub from the Heath family.  There are a couple of varieties to be found and they are all edible.  Serviceberries tend to grow right along side the blueberries, ripening at around the same time, so get to know them as well and mix them all together.  Sweet-fern tends to grow in amongst the blueberries also, making the blueberry patch your one stop shop.

I’ve posted about Sweet-fern before, but that was in the fall when the leaves are already dry.  This time of year you can throw the leaves fresh into your pot or you can dry them quickly over a fire before steeping:

Step 1: Harvest Sweet-fern leaves

Step 1: Harvest Sweet-fern leaves

Sweet-fern step 1: Harvest

Step 2: Dry leaves over coals or low fire

IMG_5397

Step 3: Steep leaves for several minutes (preferably covered)

Here are two great resources to bring on your hikes to help you with plant identification:
•    Forest Plants of Central Ontario; Lone Pine Publishing
•    Peterson Field Guides – Edible Wild Plants, Eastern/Central North America

As with any wild plant:
•    harvest/consume only those that you can identify positively
•    when in doubt ask an expert in the area
•    Learn to distinguish from any similar poisonous plant (if applicable)
•    Sample sparingly at first to gauge individual sensitivities/allergies
•    Understand which parts of which plants may be consumed as many edible plants have toxic parts/structures
•    Harvest only when/where abundant
•    Do not harvest plants that are endangered or in need of protection

Happy Trails!

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About eatpedalpaddle

I am an avid cyclist, canoeist, personal trainer, holistic lifestyle coach and certified nutritional practitioner in Toronto, Ontario.

3 responses to “Wild Edibles: Blueberries

  1. I picked many a blueberry in my youth but I didn’t know about sweet fern. Not sure if that grew back home, or not.

  2. If back home was Newfoundland, then it’s hard for me to say. Peterson’s field guide says its range is from Manitoba to Nova Scotia…. You would however have had plants such as Labrador Tea, a personal favorite. I never seem to find it growing in sufficient quantities around here to be able to pick any.

  3. Pingback: Wild Edibles: Chokecherry | eatpedalpaddle

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