Culinary Memoirs of A Biologist Who Loves Food

Berries in Turku

There are lots of plant species in Turku, Finland, that provides visible (and maybe tempting) fruits. Thing that we should know is not all of them are simply edible without preparations. This “berry note” might be helpful for anyone, especially foreigners like myself who are coming to either staying or studying in Turku!

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)

Location to find: Forest floor

Edibility: Edible, direct consumption

Period of fruiting: July (Late Summer)

Habitus: Low herbal plant

Bilberry Flowers

Flowering plant.

Bilberry (3) Bilberry (2) Bilberry (1)

Fruits bearing bush.

Description of berry: Small, blueish color, purple flesh. Small version of blueberry in fruit morphology. Tastes sour and a bit of sweetness.

Consumption note: Good for snacks, ice cream topping, dessert, or made into jam

Lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea)

Location to find: Forest floor

Edibility: Edible, direct consumption

Period of fruiting: August (Late Summer)

Habitus: Low herbal plant

Lingonberry Flowers

Flowering plants.

Lingonberry (2) Lingonberry (1)

Plants with fruits.

Description of berry: White-ish when young, red when ripe. Tastes sour and a bit of sweetness.

Consumption note: Good for snacks, ice cream topping, dessert, or made into jam.

Red Currant (Ribes rubrum)

Red Currant

Location to find: Randomly around housing complex as ornamentals

Edibility: Edible, direct consumption

Period of fruiting: July (Summer)

Habitus: Low shrub plant

Description of berry: Orange when young, red when ripe. Tastes sweet.

Consumption note: Good for snacks, ice cream topping, dessert, or made into jam. Also nice for flavors.

Gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa)

Gooseberry

Location to find: Randomly around housing complex

Edibility: Edible, direct consumption

Period of fruiting: Late June (Summer)

Habitus: Low shrub plant

Description of berry: Translucent green when young, reddish when ripe. Tastes sour and sweet.

Consumption note: Good for snacks, infused water or tea, dessert, or made into jam. Good ingredients to make as steak sauce as well.

Wild Strawberry (Fragraria vesca)

Wild Strawberry

Location to find: Randomly around housing complex or in forest floor

Edibility: Edible, direct consumption

Period of fruiting: Late June or July (Summer)

Habitus: Herbal plant

Description of berry: Smaller than cultivated strawberry, red when ripe. Tastes sour and sweet.

Consumption note: Good for snacks, ice cream topping, dessert, or made into jam.

Wild Raspberry (Rubus idaeus)

Wild Raspberry

Location to find: Randomly around housing complex or in forest side

Edibility: Edible, direct consumption

Period of fruiting: July (Summer)

Habitus: High herbal plant

Description of berry: Compound fruits, red, soft flesh and juicy. Tastes sweet and a bit sour.

Consumption note: Good for snacks, ice cream topping, dessert, or made into jam.

Juneberry or Saskatoon Berry (Amalanchier arborea)

Juneberry (1)

Unripe fruits

Juneberry (2)

Ripe fruits

Location to find: Randomly around housing complex or forest side

Edibility: Edible, direct consumption or cooked

Period of fruiting: July (Summer)

Habitus: Tree plant

Description of berry: Green when young, black when ripe. Tastes sweet with a hint of leafy flavor.

Consumption note: Good to cook for dessert, or made into jam.

Rowanberry (Sorbus aucuparia)

Rowanberry

Location to find: Randomly around housing complex as ornamentals

Edibility: Toxic when raw (contains parasorbic acid, may leads to kidney failure), edible when cooked

Period of fruiting: July (Summer)

Habitus: Tree plant

Description of berry: Orange when young, red when ripe. Tastes stingy sour when uncooked.

Consumption note: Cooked into dessert, or made into jam. Also made into liqueurs.

Tartarian Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica)

Tartarian Honeysuckle

Location to find: Randomly around housing complex as ornamentals

Edibility: Poisonous

Period of fruiting: July (Summer)

Habitus: Shrub plant

Description of berry: Orange when young, round in shape. Food source for birds and insects.

Consumption note: –

Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa)

Red Elderberry

Location to find: Randomly around housing complex as ornamentals

Edibility: Toxic when raw (contains glycoside, causing nausea), edible when cooked

Period of fruiting: July (Summer)

Habitus: Shrub plant

Description of berry: Red when ripe. Clustered from inflorescence.

Consumption note: Cooked into dessert, or made into jam. Also made into liqueurs.

Hawthorn Berry/Thornapple (Crataegus coccinea)

Hawthorn Berry

Location to find: Randomly around housing complex as ornamentals or fence plant

Edibility: Edible, direct consumption or cooked

Period of fruiting: July (Summer)

Habitus: Shrub plant

Description of berry: Clustered, red when ripe. Have medicinal value for heart and vascular problem remedy and also digestive system problem. Fruit is a bit hard with leafy taste.

Consumption note: Cooked into dessert, or made into candied fruit slice, jam. Also made into liqueurs.

Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)

Chokeberry

Location to find: Randomly around housing complex as ornamentals or fence plant

Edibility: Edible, direct consumption or cooked

Period of fruiting: July (Summer)

Habitus: Shrub plant

Description of berry: Clustered, black when ripe. Soft fruit with leafy taste and gritty texture.

Consumption note: Made into juice, baked into bread, made into flavoring, jam, and tea.

Sour Cherry (Prunus cerasus)

Cherry

Location to find: Randomly around housing complex as fruit bearing tree or in forest side

Edibility: Edible, direct consumption or cooked

Period of fruiting: June (Summer)

Habitus: Tree plant

Description of berry: Small fruit, red, with big seed inside. Tastes sour and sweet.

Consumption note: Good for snacks, ice cream topping, dessert, or made into jam.

European Crabapple (Malus sylvestris)

Apple Tree (1) Apple Tree (2)

Location to find: Randomly around housing complex as fruit bearing tree or in forest side

Edibility: Edible, direct consumption or cooked

Period of fruiting: June (Summer)

Habitus: Tree plant

Description of berry: Crabapple is smaller than apple, green-reddish when ripe. Tastes sour and sweet.

Consumption note: Good for snacks, ice cream topping, dessert, or made into jam.

Rose Hip (Rosa rugosa)

Rose Hip Bush Rose Hips Rose

Location to find: Randomly around housing complex as flowering bush

Edibility: Edible, direct consumption or cooked

Period of fruiting: Late July (Summer)

Habitus: Shrub plant

Description of berry: Small fruit, red, with big seeds inside.

Consumption note: Made into herbal tea, jam, jelly, syrup, pastries, marmalade, wine, or other beverages.

Snowberry/Ghostberry/Waxberry (Symphoricarpos albus)

Ghostberry

Location to find: Randomly around housing complex as ornamentals

Edibility: Poisonous

Period of fruiting: June (Summer)

Habitus: Shrub plant

Description of berry: Hard, white berry, round in shape.

Consumption note: –

Crowberry (Empetum nigrum)

Crowberry

Location to find: Forest floor

Edibility: Edible, direct consumption

Period of fruiting: July-August (Late Summer)

Habitus: Low herb plant

Description of berry: Soft, black berry, round in shape. Tastes a bit plain to sweet.

Consumption note: Direct consumption, made into jam or wine.

Yewberry (Taxus baccata)

Yewberry (1) Yewberry (2)

Location to find: Randomly around housing complex as ornamentals

Edibility: Edible flesh, extremely poisonous seed and other plant part. Not recommended to eat for safety.

Period of fruiting: August (Late Summer)

Habitus: Shrub plant

Description of berry: It’s actually not a berry as it is a Gymnosperm. Soft torus-shaped flesh (modified seed cone) covering solid single green seed. The flesh tastes sweet with slime like Aloe vera.

Consumption note: It’s actually edible, but due its other plant part contains taxine than claimed to cause cardiac arrest, it’s better to avoid this one.

BONUS PLANT

Silver Birch Tree (Betula pendula)

Birch (1)

Tree in winter/early spring

Birch (2)

Tree in summer

Birch Sap

Sap may be collected in spring.

Location to find: Randomly around housing complex or in forest side. It’s Finland national tree.

Edibility: Wood bark can be used for consumption, sap can be taken directly or processed. Mycorrhizal host for chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius)

Habitus: Tree plant

Consumption note: Bark bread, sap syrup

Identifications were done with help of Reza Raihan (Forestry Engineering batch 2012 of Bandung Institute of Technology, Indonesia)

-AW-

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