September 09, 2012

11 Delicious Rare Berries from Around the World

As summer draws to a close in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s a perfect time to stock up on the last of the season’s berries, whether you aim to eat them all in one sitting or to freeze a few pints for the colder months. It’s also a perfect time to fantasize about some of the world’s rarer and more unusual berry species!

While some berries (like strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries) are common on supermarket shelves around the world, there are many other berries that, while edible, are not so well-known. If you’re lucky, you might find a few of these berry types at a local farmers’ market. However, many of them are difficult to cultivate and can only be gathered wild, while others are famed in their home territory but nowhere else.

Read on to learn more. Have you sampled any of these uncommon fruits, or would you like to? Tell us in the comments!

1. Chokeberry (Aronia)

Chokeberries grow throughout eastern North America. They are not often eaten raw because of their mouth-drying astringency, but may be made into delicious wine, jam, syrup, or juice. They’re also very high in antioxidants.

2. Crowberry (Empetrum)

These berries grow on a dwarf evergreen shrub, which occurs in colder climates throughout the Northern Hemisphere, as well as in the southern Andes Mountains. They don’t have a strong flavor, but are watery and a little sweet. They are also a useful staple crop for indigenous people who live in subarctic areas.

3. Apple Berry (Billardiera scandens)

These oblong, fuzzy berries grow throughout Australia. They don’t ripen until autumn, after the berries have dropped onto the ground. The taste is similar to kiwifruit or stewed apples.

4. Bilberry (Vaccinium)

Closely related to blueberries but with a fuller taste, bilberries are challenging to cultivate, but are often gathered from the wild and eaten in Finland, Poland, Ireland, and other temperate countries.

5. Yangmei (Myrica rubra)

These berries, often called yumberries or Chinese bayberries, grow on trees native to eastern Asia, where they have been cultivated for over 2000 years. The crimson-to-purple fruit is very tart and sweet.

6. Calafate Berry (Berberis microphylla)

These berries only grow in Chilean and Argentine Patagonia; there is a local saying that anyone who eats a Calafate berry will someday return to Patagonia. They are slightly tart and filled with many small seeds, but palatable.

7. Sapodilla (Manilkara zapota)

These fruits look much more like small potatoes than they do berries—yet they are berries, commonly cultivated in Mexico, India, and Pakistan. They have the texture of a ripe pear, with a malty flavor reminiscent of caramel or a pear candied with brown sugar.

8. Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis)

Salmonberries, from western North America, are in the same genus as blackberries and raspberries, but they are a striking orange-red color. If not properly ripe, they may be bland in flavor, but they’re consistently good in jams or eaten with salmon, hence their name.

9. Saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia)

Saskatoons, or Pacific serviceberries, grow in Alaska, through western Canada, and into the northwest United States. They are slightly waxy in appearance, but have a sweet and nutty taste. They’re also very high in antioxidants and nutrients, so they might be the next superfruit!

10. Snow Berry (Gaultheria hispida)

These berries are native to the island of Tasmania. The flavor is slightly bitter, but it’s similar to the taste of a gooseberry. They can be eaten raw, and they are delicious when cooked into tarts.

11. Cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus)

Cloudberries grow on arctic and alpine tundras, in areas like Canada, Alaska, Russia, the Nordic countries, and the Baltic states. They considered a delicacy because of their tart and juicy flavor, but they primarily grow wild.

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