Foraging For Juneberries and Mulberries Close to Home

by Meg Cotner on June 9, 2015

This morning I was perusing my Twitter feed and came across this tweet by Leda Meredith, a food preservation expert and forager here in NYC—she mentioned juneberries:

I followed the link to her blog post, where she talked more about juneberries. She mentioned that they were also called serviceberries, which triggered a memory of hearing about serviceberry trees not far from my apartment, and since it was still early enough in the morning, I headed out to find them.

When I arrived in the area I thought would be home to the serviceberry trees, I didn’t see them at first, and was a little bummed out… until I looked further down the hill and saw a tree full of berries—and there were a lot of them.

serviceberry-tree-queens-ny

As you can see, the berries were at various levels of ripeness—the dark purple berries are the sweetest, with the red ones being a little more tart, but still ripe. I harvested about a half pint of berries, and there are still more, so I expect to be able to harvest many more if I like. There’s actually a second tree even further down the hill, but the berries are not close to being ripe. I’ll keep checking on them.

Here’s my harvest from this morning:

foraged-juneberries-queens-ny

The berries have a sort of meaty texture; they are not watery at all. The seeds have a taste reminiscent of almonds. All together, they are a delight to eat raw; sounds like they also cook down well for pies and tarts, too.

I also knew that there was a mulberry tree not far from the serviceberry trees, so I decided to harvest some. I took this photo last Thursday, and the tree ripened up really fast; the sidewalk is covered in mulberry fruit pulp, and the tree has fruit at varying points of ripeness.

mulberry-tree-astoria-queens

I picked about a pint of mulberries.

foraged-mulberries-queens-ny

A woman walked by and asked what I was doing, and it was fun to tell her about the mulberries. She was astonished that you could eat the ripe fruits on the tree.

On the way home, I came upon a while mulberry tree—total surprise.

foraged-white-mulberries-queens-ny

These berries taste different from the conventional purple mulberries I’m used to—they are a sweet and slightly spicy, though not very “fruity” tasting. The fruit clusters were less packed and it was easier to pick the fruit, too.

I also passed an apple tree not far from the white mulberries. It has fruited but it has a long way to go.

baby-apples-queens-ny

Over the years I’ve passed by this apple tree when most of the fruit has fallen—the fruit is pretty small and has a blush to it, along with a shiny exterior. I’ll keep an eye on them and get a better idea further into summer.

Overall, I spent about 2 hours walking around and picking wild berries, and had a total blast. It was so much fun! I want to learn more about wild foods and local foraging. I’d especially like to get my hands on some beach plums.

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