This year's fruit'n'berry season was weird.
[image:13479 align=left hspace=1]This year, we had no bilberries in southern Finland. Not even the "always abundant" spots had any berries. I think I got three berries from one usually extremely abundant spot. A friend went picking them along the Russian border, though - 500 kms thataway ->, and gave me some, in exchange for some frozen'n'chopped up nettles (she had missed the nettle season early this summer).
Our plum tree was loaded with flowers, and set a good number of green fruit, but dropped almost all of them, cos it was too cold and rainy - next to no sun. The 6 or 7 plums that ripened were tasty, although the tree dropped them, too, while they were still a bit green (and not fully yellow).
Our two young cherry trees produced 2 and 12 cherries - the birds got 2 and 10 of those. The two we got to taste weren't fully ripe, but still tasty.
Our black currants produced perhaps 12 berries each. We put in 4 more bushes, in sunnier spots, just in case our honking big oaks are too shady for the bushes we do have. The red currant produced lots, but every single berry went over a weekend ... the birds were hungry.
[image:17040 align=left hspace=1]This year is a bumper year for rose family berries, though. The rowans (Sorbus aucuparia) are bending down with their bright orange burdens, and I've picked enough for me and some others. Some of those "some others" live out in the woods, where their rowans were producing lots, too, but when they got around to actually go and pick the berries, they were all gone: the birds in their woods were hungry, too, cos there were no bilberries to be had this year.
Now, somebody wrote on the herblist that they had picked rowanberries, and that they were too astringent for them. Rowans aren't astringent. They're sour and very very bitter. They make a very good juice with two thirds apples and one third rowans (in the steam juicer) ... and they make good jams and things, if you add 1 tablespoon of a good gin, whisky or similar to each half-liter (pint) jar.
[image:18593 align=left hspace=1]The other rowan, Swedish service-tree (Sorbus hybrida), is producing lots this year, too. Those berries are just bland. I expect they'd be nice to extend very sour fruit, but dunno if I can be bothered to pick any.
There's loads of hawthorn berries on the black-berried trees (Crataegus douglasii) over there ->. I've been picking some, and I expect to pick more before frost hits. Those go into the dehydrator for teas, to give courage and to help the heart. Gotta love hawthorns ...
The roses are in full hip, too; there's lots and lots on the black-berried bushes, but the birds have been decimating the red-berried ones. Last time, a few years ago, when I picked rosehips there were worms in Every. Single. Hip. Hopefully things are better this year - but rosehips are tedious to process, they're a food (not a herb), and thus they're not all that high on my "gotta pick that before winter hits" list.
And apples. My oh my but we had apples this year. The last batch is boiling down right now (whew). We have perhaps 7 trees (they're not easy to count) (honest!), of which two didn't produce anything usable - those are shaded by our enormous oaks. I have no idea what kinds of apples we have - I haven't planted any of those trees. They're all different, though. And I'm quite happy that passers-by have been picking them off some of the trees, cos I really have no idea what I would have done with ALL of that ... as is, the three (or four (or five (they're really not easy to count))) trees next to the walkway were empty at "reach up and pick'em" level long before any of the apples were ripe. After that kids have been climbing two of the trees, picking (and throwing down) more apples. We've had to tell them "not that many up there!" only once. Alas, that once those kids were LARGE, so I went out and got anything still hanging the next day, cos 7-8 13-14 year olds are too heavy for any apple tree. Two or three of the trees show scars - half the tree is gone -- but that was before we moved to this place. We're hoping to save all the rest, cos those apples are tasty. Sour and good; they make excellent apple sauce, and, if they are allowed to ripen, they're good eating apples, too.
Anyway, we got another freezer, cos I've been freezing boiled-down prime in-season vegetables (nettles, onions, tomatoes, beans) this summer, too, in addition to freezing lots and lots and lots of apple sauce (and rowan berries, and aronia berries, and ...). I would've canned the apple sauce, but we have no cold storage. And there's no room for a dirt cellar in the garden, else I'd put one in in a heartbeat ...