Backyard Berry Bounty

Blackberry KombuchaThe brambles on our property are wicked. They reach out when you walk past, grab an arm or leg, and take a bite. The thorns are sharp and strong, and they’re difficult to disentangle from your clothing. Nonetheless, it’s worth risking scratches (and ants running up your arms and legs) to harvest blackberries growing wild along the fencelines.

We picked a bowlful of ripe berries this weekend and used them to flavor water kefir and kombucha. The dark juice lent a nice color to the beverages, and the water kefir is delicious – refreshing with a definite berry flavor, not too sweet.

The kombucha will be ready to strain and bottle later today, and the berries have given the ‘booch a dark, purplish hue. The freshly-harvested (plain) ‘booch was slightly sweet with a pleasant tang, so should marry well with the berries.

What’s better than harvesting berries that grew completely on their own in your yard? We harvested wild-growing mulberries earlier, and it looks like there will be a bumper crop of elderberries soon. If we can beat the chickens to them, they could become syrup or wine.

While not a berry, we have a number of black walnut trees that will produce a lot of walnuts later in the year (the first time we saw the green fruit, we thought they were hedge apples, but there were no thorns). Walnuts are tasty and nutritious, but it’s labor-intensive to get to the nut meat. This year, we’ll make use of them, in part because it seems almost disrespectful to ignore nature’s offering. The squirrels probably won’t mind sharing.

It’s exciting and rewarding to discover edibles and usable plants in your yard. Those pesky dandelions? The flowers can be used to make dandelion wine, and the greens make a nice salad addition. Who knows what edible plant we’ll discover underfoot next?