Gobble Gobble

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Here at FOTL we have plenty to be thankful for, including wonderful family, food, and foraging grounds. I’d also like to take a moment to thank you, dear reader, for joining me on my trek through wild foodways this past year. The first anniversary draws near.

If you harvested your own cranberries for Turkey Day, I’d like to hear about it. Several species of cranberry are native to North America, including the common cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos) of temperate climates worldwide and the large American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) of the Northeast, and there’s a thriving cranberry industry in a few places around the country as well, notably Cape Cod, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and even my home state of Washington. But I’ve never actually seen a non-commercial cranberry bog in the wild, not that I’ve gone looking for one.

A good alternative for us Pac Nor’westerners, if we want to make our own fresh berry sauce for the bird, is the evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum), which is still kicking out berries through much of its range at the lower elevations. They say the fruit is even sweeter after a frost. While down in Oregon’s Rogue River Canyon a couple weeks ago I munched on these late-season treats while walking the Rogue River Trail and fishing for steelhead.

Making a sweet and savory huckleberry sauce to complement a roast turkey or other meats is almost too easy to be true (like home-made cranberry sauce, for that matter), but you can complicate it with any number of additions, from various liqueurs to spices and whatever else gets your gobble up.

6 thoughts on “Gobble Gobble

  1. Laurie Constantino

    We have often gathered wild cranberries and frozen them for use in our Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. They’re Vaccinium vitis-idaea and are commonly referred to in Alaska as “lowbush cranberries” (they’re a tiny evergreen that creep very low to the ground) as opposed to “highbush cranberries” (Viburnum edule) which grow on bushes. While edible, highbush cranberries aren’t very flavorful and give off an unfortunate odor when cooking. Lowbush cranberries, on the other hand, have wonderful flavor and are a very prized wild edible.

  2. Nick

    Tried a cranberry sauce with some Alaskan Highbush (Viburnum edule per Laurie above) from last season. Equal parts cranberries, water, and sugar, simmered with a vegetable masher. Good flavor, but HUGE seeds. They didn’t gel up as nicely as I would have hoped (pectin next time perhaps?), but provided a good color, texture, and flavor contrast to the rest of my gravy-covered thanksgiving meal. I give it a C+, mostly for effort (and vitamin C!).

  3. Tim

    Head east for huckleberries the size of your finger nail in August/ Sept Finny. About 60 miles east of me and great fishing as well.Have a recipe with Zinfandel, sugar and cranberries that might do well with the wild ones.


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