Highbush Cranberry Jelly
Have you been putting up some jams and jellies this summer? North Dakotans are quite dedicated to putting up nature’s bounty of Juneberries, chokecherries, and other wild fruits as they mature. Preserves from the garden, of course, can be quite tasty, but there is something special about preserves made from our wild fruits. The fruits of these labors, pun intended, will be shared with friends and relatives, perhaps given as gifts, and enjoyed and savored throughout the winter months.
Perhaps like you, I enjoy most all of the jams, jellies, and syrups of our native fruits, but what really gets my juices flowing is highbush cranberry preserves. I have been watching the highbush cranberries closely as of late, and it won’t be long until they are ready for harvesting.
Highbush cranberry, also known as pembina, is what botanists used to call Viburnum trilobum but now call Viburnum opulus variety americanum. It is a tall shrub with light-colored bark and leaves with three prominent lobes. Highbush cranberry is a member of the honeysuckle family, so it is not a true cranberry. The misnomer is likely due to the fruits which look similar and are tart as well.
Highbush cranberry can be found in wooded areas across much of the northern United States and southern Canada. Here in North Dakota, however, it is native to the eastern portions of the state, but is most abundant in the Turtle Mountains and Pembina Hills.
When eaten fresh, highbush cranberries are very astringent. They will turn your lips inside out. Add some sugar, however, and they express a unique and pleasantly sweet taste. Plus there is something quite interesting about the translucent light red of the preserves. At any rate, if all goes well, we will soon have enough of this unique Natural North Dakota flavored jelly, sauce, and perhaps cordial, to keep us content until next years crop is ready to harvest.
Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Minot State University-Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.
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