Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Providence's Perennial Provisions: Agarita Berries

Agarita BerriesIn trying to live off of the land, we have learned to consider ways that God via the land already provides. There are quite a few native edibles out here, one being Agarita berries. They are small, red berries that ripen around this time, and can be fairly sweet if gathered at the right time. Even a bit tart, they're not too bad.


And so, we decided this year to pick a few, to take advantage of the gift off of the land the Lord has granted.

This is a picture of a some Agarita berry plants with fairly ripe berries:

Agarita Berry Bush


And here is Sue gathering the berries. The Agarita plant leaves have very sharp points, and will stick you and stick in you; and so, she is wearing gloves:

Sue Picking Agarita Berries


When we picked the berries, we tried different methods, including using a fork to pluck them off, but decided to try to just grab as many berries as we could, which seemed to be the quickest way. However, when it came time to clean them, Sue had to go through the lot of them pulling out those prickly leaves; and in the end, it might have taken just as long to pick and clean them as it would have to just pluck them cleanly in the first place. Thanks to Sue for her patience in somewhat painfully going through all of those. Gary marveled at her patience too :) :

Sue Cleaning Agarita Berries


And here are the results!

Harvested Agarita Berries


Since it's only Sue and I here on our homestead, we have to make a lot of priority decisions as to what we spend our time doing. Because of how long it takes to collect them, we didn't spend much more time doing that, although I went out one other time to try the fork-plucking method. And, to save time in the processing, and to continue to practice not relying on the world's fuels, we put them in our solar food dehydrator to dry them:

Drying Agarita Berries in Our Solar Food Dehydrator


If you're interested, here is a link to some details about the Agarita berry plant. And here is the Wikipedia entry for Agarita berries.

We are grateful to God for His provisioning of these perennial berries here growing natively off of the land.

-- David

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is a lot of berries per plant for a native plant. How did the drying turn out?

All of Michael's and your talking of native edible plants has me thinking of things we could harvest that are wild growing. We have Oregon grape, Black Hawthorn, wild blackberries, and wild carrots identified so far. Lord willing, we will be able to harvest some and see if there is some good use for them.

I am glad to see you are getting rain. Your early years were so dry, which I am sure makes you all the more thankful for the provision of summer rains.

-Todd

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hi Todd,

A little crunchy, although they can be somewhat re-hydrated.

Thanks, about the rain. Yes, we are very grateful for the Lord's provisioning, always.

I hope you're able to gather some wild edibles yourself!

-- David

Melanie Bone said...

Are you sure that's end and not just an insane case of start?

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hi Melanie,

Not exactly sure what you mean; but if it's that there are just a ton of berries on each plant, then yes, one has to spend quite some time gathering them. We gathered some; but for us at this time in our homesteading lives, we just don't have the time to spend on them that would necessary to get them all.

-- David

Anonymous said...

I wonder if an "afro pick" or detangler comb might work for this berry like it does for elderberry?

David and Susan Sifford said...

Anonymous,

It might...thanks for the idea.

-- David

Anonymous said...

Hello. I grew up in the hill country of Texas with an abundance of Agarita bushes around. The method we found most effective for harvesting the berries was a thrashing method. We would put a bed sheet on the ground under the bush and use a stick or broom handle to gently but effectively thrash the berries from the bush. Then we carefully gathered the sheet from around the base of the bush. We then would sort the berries by letting them fall in front of a fan so that the leaves and other debris would fly away and the berries would fall into a large bowl. You may modify this method to suit your needs. Also we would use some of the root to dye cloth a very vibrant yellow color. -Rebecca Moses

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hi Rebecca,

Wow, that's great! We'll have to give that a shot, Lord willing.

Thanks much!

-- David