When we purchased this house last year, the wineberries were just beginning to ripen. Ever since last year, I’ve been looking forward to their return. My kids love berry picking, and I love to take them. Wineberries come ahead of honeysuckle as my favorite invasive species! They’re easy to mistake for raspberries, but wineberries don’t have the hairs that are commonly associated with raspberries.
Where Do Wineberries Come From?
Wineberries were brought on American soil in the 1890’s. The idea was to get them to mix with our raspberries, but that didn’t happen. Instead, we ended up with this invasive delicious berry called the wineberry or Asian raspberry. I’ve seen them along the road in our central Maryland location. They seem to be equally happy in full-sun, partial-sun, or even full shade. We have them growing all around our property. Their proper name is Rubus phoenicolasius, which means “raspberry with purple hairs”, probably referencing the wineberry stems.
When Can I Pick Wineberries?
In our area, near Annapolis, wineberries seem to ripen after the mulberry trees, but before most of the blackberries. They tide us over wonderfully until we can start picking the blackberries as well. Wineberry canes grow up to 8 feet, and as their tops touch the ground, they start new canes. Like other berries in the Rubus genus, they create dense thickets. Their fruit looks like little red gems tucked away in the brush, but the stems sport thorns or bristles. So don’t be too tempted to brave the thicket without thick pants, a long sleeve shirt, and gloves.
The berries hide within their closed flower buds until they’re closer to full ripening. They look ready when they’re an orange-red, but don’t be fooled. You’re looking for a deep red color.
Picking wineberries is easy. As I taught my boys this summer, you should only have to use your thumb and forefinger. Ripe wineberries practical fall off at the slightest touch. If you’re pulling on the berry it isn’t ready yet. They turn a lovely deep pink-red color, like an Indian or Afghan ruby.
“Wineberries are lovely fresh, but they are also good in preserves and baked goods. Like all brambleberries, wineberries freeze well and make excellent jam and jelly.” via Foraging Wineberries: A Delicious Invasive
A Delicious Wineberry Recipe
Now, of course, I had to go find a recipe to try. If I can keep my two-year-old from eating all of the berries, I might be able to try this recipe out!
WINEBERRY-ORANGE GELÉE TOPPED WITH WHIPPED CREAM AND ORANGE ZEST
A French, gelatin-based specialty, gelée often features champagne or fortified wine as an ingredient. The following recipe for Wineberry-Orange Gelée does not. This makes it more family-friendly but also more of a gelatin than a true gelée. When craving authenticity, I’d replace the water with champagne.
If you don’t have access to wineberries, you can substitute raspberries or blackberries in this recipe.
1 1/4 cup fresh wineberries, rinsed
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 (.25 ounce) envelopes of gelatin
1 cup water, divided
Juice of 6 oranges (about 2 cups)
Grated zest of 2 oranges
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Whipped cream, optional, for serving
Place the washed berries in a bowl with the sugar and lemon juice and toss to combine. Allow the wineberries to macerate for 30 minutes.
Pour half of the water into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over top. Let the two steep for 5 minutes.
Place the orange juice, sugar, juice of 1 lemon and remaining water in a large saucepan. Bring the ingredients to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and add the gelatin mixture. Stir again until the gelatin has dissolved.
Strain the liquid from the berries and add this to the pan. Stir to combine.
Pour equal amounts of gelatin into six decorative glasses or bowls. Spoon an equal number of wineberries into each glass. Refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours or maximum of 2 days. Before serving, decorate each with the optional whipped cream and orange zest.
Do you have wineberries where you live? What do you do with them? Let me know in the comments!