Sunday, September 25, 2016

Salmonberry Jelly


Salmonberry is native to the Pacific Northwest and is very important to native americans all up and down the coast, from what's now Alaska, to what's now Northern California. It hasn't been domesticated, so this is only available by knowing a good picking spot (and having permission to pick there).

I also feel obligated to balance the extreme fruit-bias in our culture by informing everyone that the entire plant is edible. The fresh spring sprouts can be eaten raw or steamed.

The berries can be tricky. It's hard to tell when they're ripe because they come in such a wide array of colors (pale orange to dark red).

Salmonberries Memorial weekend 2016
(All of these are the same level of ripeness, from bushes a few feet apart)

They have inconsistent (and most people say bland) flavor; birds and bears eat them before you can get them; and they tend to grow near stinging nettles and devils club.

Salmonberries Memorial weekend 2016

(me standing in front of a a nine-foot-tall nettle while picking)

But they're very juicy and I'm lucky to have a good spot on private land that no one else but the birds are using. My first trip to the patch was Memorial Day weekend. I got a decent amount, but the picking was better when I returned two weeks later.

Salmonberries Memorial weekend 2016

For making the jelly, I got tips from this awesome blog, but I did a couple things different. I definitely agree with her that I would never make salmonberry jam - the seeds are ridiculous. (She's also in a much harsher environment than me. Our Oregon salmonberries grow ten feet tall).

I froze the berries, then cooked them and mashed them up, then dumped them in cheesecloth to get the juice out. (I can't stop myself from squeezing the cheesecloth to get juice out. That's supposed to make the juice cloudy, but I didn't see a big problem.)

4.5 cups of Salmonberry juice
7 cups of white sugar
1 package powdered SureJell
Yield: 9 cups of jelly, packaged in six 8oz jars, and five 4oz jars, and some extra I ate on toast right away.

I see a 4oz jar of Alaskan salmonberry jelly is selling on Amazon for six bucks, I should get on that. 


This was my first time tasting salmonberry anything (except fresh). It's very good. Reminiscent of raspberry (go figure), but it's own unique flavor.

Pojar, Jim and MacKinnon, Andy, ed. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, Revised, Lone Pine, 2004

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