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What do you do with salmon berries?

I'm guessing I won't get anywhere on the home cooking board since these seem to be limited to the Northwest (maybe even to Washington?) so hopefully this doesn't get deleted. Anyway, we have a bunch of salmon berries growing in our backyard, probably will be ripe within a week or so, and I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions of how to use them. I wasn't crazy about them straight off the bush when I tried them last year, but we have so many it seems like a waste not to try to do something with them. Suggestions? Thanks, Chowhounders! You always come to the rescue.

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  1. I have a lot of salmon berries in my neighborhood and have often wondered what to do with them too. I just consulted The Berry Bible by Janie Hibler (a great reference book btw) and she thinks they are too delicate to cook. Since most people encounter them on a trail, she recommends just enjoying them fresh since they are too fragile to transport.

    Maybe use them to garnish a salad or mix them into some yogurt or what about a cocktail?

    1. I used to make salmon berry pancakes as a kid, as well as (red) huckleberry pancakes. I think that the would be nice in green salad with a light vinegrette and mild lettuce (not rockets or frisee), and with feta in it, too.

      Really, though, I ate them right off the bush. Wild berries you pick yourself always taste the best. (Incidentally, I'm on Vancouver Island, so they're here, too!)

      1. Thanks for the replies so far. I originally posted this on the Pacific Northwest board and it got moved so I'm happy to see some others who know what salmon berries are (I'd never heard of them before moving to Western Washington) and have tried them. Thank you for suggesting The Berry Bible - I'll have to check it out for other berries.

        1. What is a salmon berry? I think of a salmon as a fish that swims...can't picture salmons in trees with berries?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Rhee

            I thought the name probably referred to the color, but according to wikipedia it is because the berries were eaten with half-dried salmon roe.


          2. My Mom & Aunt used to send all of us out in the woods to pick salmon berries and huckleberries. We'd be gone for hours. I can't remember a single time that a salmon berry ever made it back home -- I'm sure we ate them as fast as we could pick them. Huckleberries though did occasionally make it back and were baked into an amazing pie or cobbler. Of course, I now realize that this was a ploy to get us out of their hair so they could visit in peace -- we never got in trouble for coming home empty handed!

            1. I would agree that they are too fragile for serious cooking and the flavor a bit delicate. Myself, i just plain eat them.

              But if you wanted to go a bit further, I can see whipping up some nice fresh creme [or maybe some creme freiche from Sea Breeze Farms!] with a bit of honey and vanilla and then combining the two. heck you might want to stick some slices of pound cake on the bottom of the dish...

              Oh and if you don't like the taste, when I was introduced to them I was told many people are not fond of salmon berries, finding them "watery" and "insipid." So maybe you are just a thimble berry person instead..........................

              1. Make wine. I have some salmon berry wine that I received as a gift - it was commercially made.

                1. I grew up with them in Western WA and always just ate them out of hand. I find the flavor sort of odd sometimes. However, the flowers are just beautiful.

                  1. Thanks again for all of the responses so far. My husband really likes salmon berries and I'm willing to give them another try this year, although jenn may be right...I may be more of a thimble berry girl! Salmon berries are definitely pretty, and the flowering branches made a great bouquet earlier this spring.

                    jenn, I'll have to try your suggestion - I'll pick up some creme from Sea Breeze at the farmers' market this weekend.

                    sarah, do you recall the producer of the wine?

                    I'm guessing jam is probably out from the suggestions I've gotten so far. If you've made jam from salmon berries, please chime in - success or no!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: kkbriggs

                      I don't see why you couldn't do jam--I just think the flavor would be so mild, I'm not sure it would be worth the effort.

                      That said, you might try infusing the salmon berries in white wine with a bit of vodka and sugar---think Susan Loomis' French Country cooking with the peach flowers and leaves. Might be interesting........

                      1. re: kkbriggs

                        Salmonberries make a very good jam , tho I have always made jelly using the raspberry jelly instructions. they can be frozen until ready for use for jams and jelly. they can be used for pies, toppings sauces etc. I am trying to find a place to pick them . there doesn't seem to be any here around edmonds, wa

                      2. Hi, I landed here while looking for recipes for salmonberry wine (we have more growing on our property in Washington state than we can eat fresh) and I hope this response isn't too late for the readers.

                        Salmonberries are found all the way from coastal Oregon to Alaska. Their flavor depends upon how much water the plant takes up and the particular plant clone. They are just about the first natural source of vitamin C in the spring here, so were important to both native Americans and early settlers.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: osprey2

                          Osprey, have you found any recipes for salmonberry wine? I've been snacking on them straight off the bush for the past few days and like them more than I did the first time I tried them, but the flavor is definitely mild. Our dog is completely obsessed with them - he's been eating them straight off the bush.

                        2. Oh how I miss salmon berries! I agree that eating them right off the bush is best. I used to make a fruit tart with vanilla cream topped with a mix of raspberries and salmon berries. It was always a big hit. They are also very tasty if you freeze them and use as a garnish for summer drinks.

                          1. I am from british columbia, canada. We have lots of salmonberries up here. We alway add a bit of water and a bit of sugar (for a little sweetness) and mash them up, you can eat it like that in a cup with a spoon or pour that mixture over vanilla icecream(mmmm). Enjoy

                            1. I just moved to Alaska and went salmonberry picking with some friends who grew up here. today one of them made a salmonberry pie that I'm now addicted too.
                              6 cups of salmonberry
                              2 TB sugar
                              1/3 package raspberrry jello
                              4 TB corn starch
                              dash of salt
                              1 baked 10" pie shell
                              real whipped cream

                              crush 2 cups berries, siev and strain. add enough water to make 1 1/2 cups
                              mix sugar, corn starch, salt and jello add to berry juice. cook stirring constantly (5 mins) or unitl mixture is thickened. allow to cool

                              place remaining berries in pie shell then pour on cooked mixture
                              chill for several hours
                              serve w/ whipped cream

                              believe me this receipe cant be beat

                              1. I am from Alaska and we use salmon berries every year. The seeds are pretty big for making jam. We make salmon berry jelly, and freeze some for making a berry crisp. For the crisp I use blueberries, huckleberries, raspberries, thimbleberries, and salmon berries. You can also find a recipe for a salmonberry pie. A couple of books you might be interested in are Out of Alaska's Kitchens - by members of the Easter Seal Society for Alaska Crippled Children and Adults (first copyright 1961- the book has a drawn picture of a totem pole and a cook pot on it) then the book called Cooking Alaskan - by Alaskans. This book has a picture of a plate of king crab legs on it. They are both wonderful books.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: lyndy

                                  we have been picking salmpn berries forever,we eat them plain,or with sugar and milk, a very good choice. Also we jar them and they are delicious that way you can have them for dessert when ever you want, we freeze them for use later on in the winter. My mother is 89 and she jars as much as she can as we always have them for desserts or use them at feasts..

                                2. i have to disagree with every one who sais you can not cook them, i made an excellent jam out of tthem that was very good, i didnt even use pectin!!!! here is the recipe:

                                  -2 cups crushed salmon berries

                                  -1/2 cup sugar

                                  boil sugar and berries on high for 5 minutes then reduce tomedium low for 20 mins. let cool in refridgeratoe for 2 hours and will be ready to serve

                                  if you are looking for a healthier option try with out sugar, and let me know how it goes

                                  1. I grew up in Washington state and ate these every summer as a kid. They can be found in the Pacific Northwest from B.C. down to northern California wherever cool forested areas are.

                                    We did everything with them that you'd do with raspberries; jam, scones, cobblers, etc. For pies, we mixed them with raspberries. They have a more 'diluted' taste than raspberries so do well with a boost of flavor from other berries, but as far as jam/jelly goes they don't need any help. Their flavor also combines well with delicate or light-flavored fish, cheeses, and cream treats.

                                    However, my favorite way to eat them has always been straight off the bush. :)