Trail Cooking

Native Foraging: The Ripe Salmonberry

In early spring, the forest and along the edge of trees light up with bright pink blossoms, often near areas boggy with water.

In late spring/early summer, the berries come on. They are huge berries, and the bushes are often loaded. But wether you find any depend on how many hungry birds are in the area.

Salmonberries (Rubus spectabilis) is a species of brambles in the rose family, native to the west coast of North America, ranging from west-central Alaska to California, inland as far as Idaho. In Western Washington, they are often found, growing right next to blackberry canes. They compliment the blackberries, as they ripen while the blackberries still are in flower mode.

When they ripen, they hit light orange, then deep orange, as above.

But if you wait (and hope the birds don’t get them all), they turn a deep red/crimson.

Both are good to eat – and my kids like the deep orange stage over the red. They say it is less bitter. However, if you are picking to make jam or jelly, either stage works well. The berries don’t dry well though. Either pick to eat, or pick to preserve.

Often the best patches are blocked to get to:

The same boggy areas that lead to good berries also are excellent for Stinging Nettles. These nettles are overgrown and going to seed, and were about 5 feet tall. If you can scootch around them carefully, you might find a patch behind (which there is).

Which leads to happy children!