Food in Alaska doesn't necessarily come only from the grocery story. In late summer, Mother Nature dishes up a variety of wild berries perfect for making pies, jams, jellies or just for munching as you hike through the wilderness.
If you're not sure where to start, ask the locals. Someone always knows where the good patches are. If it resembles a raspberry or blueberry, you can't go wrong.
Here are favorites on the Kenai Peninsula:
Blueberry Varieties include a dwarf alpine plant and huckleberries. Bushes favor woodland clearings, logged and burned tracts. They peak in late August and early September.
Salmonberry The first to ripen early in August, they grow on open slopes and roadsides. The fragile, watery fruits are larger than their close cousins, the raspberries, and come in yellow and red.
Trailing raspberry They cluster in the forest and produce one fruit per inch-high plant. The leaves have five parts and the red fruit few lobes. Tasty but hard to pick.
Nagoonberry Also called dewberry, this tiny raspberry cousin favors forest clearings with acidic soil. Leaves have three parts. Its single fruit differs from the trailing raspberry in having many lobes and a deep garnet color.
Cloudberry These plants only get several inches tall and grow singly in bogs. They produce single tasty berries resembling peach-colored raspberries.
Watermelon berry Also called twisted stalk, this annual forest herb produces oblong berries hung on single stalks beneath the narrow leaves.
Ripe, they are orange-red to deep purple.
Currant These wild relatives of the gooseberry bush favor margins and slash. The round berries grow in drooping clusters under the foliage.
Crowberry Common in bogs and alpine meadows, the little round black berries grow on trailing evergreen shrubs but taste mediocre.
High bush cranberry The forest bushes smell like old shoes and the seedy, round, red fruits pucker your lips.
But picked after the first frost and sweetened, they are tasty and rich in vitamin C.
Low bush cranberry Also called lingonberry, this common little plant of forest and tundra has handsome glossy leaves. The tart fruit is popular for cooking.
True cranberry So tiny they often are overlooked, they grow in bogs on thread-like stems and are barely a third-of-an-inch across.
They are sweetest after the first frost.
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