What are wineberries? Good question. We noticed some very prickly berry bushes in the front garden and assumed they were raspberries. The berries were red – so must be raspberries, right? Wrong. There was something strange about them. They looked more like red blackberries, not like the raspberries I was used to seeing.
Long story short: they were wineberries (a relative to the raspberry). They ripen in June and July and like moist, sunny conditions. Wineberries are native to Japan and considered by some an invasive plant in the United States, but if the berries are the most delicious thing you’ve ever eaten is that still okay? I noticed that the birds love them, too.
The ripening fruit is protected by a bristly case that opens once the berries are almost ready.
The fruit starts out pale green in color, then turns from a light orange to a deep, beautiful ruby red. They actually look like shiny jewels!
When the berries are ready, they fall right off when you pick them, but it’s a dangerous activity – lots of sharp and prickly spikes on the stems, branches, and even the leaves. Well worth it, though. I’ve never had such tasty berries!
We had so many, I filled a large bowl in one sweep of picking. No need to pace ourselves. We ate them on cereal, on ice cream, by the handful (many handfuls), made wineberry jam, and a wineberry buttermilk cake. I went back in the mornings and picked what had newly ripened – more and more berries! Can you tell I’m a fan?
For more summer fruit and flowers at Ridgeside, check out our Summer album on Facebook.