• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
5m 43s

Harvesting Alaska: Embracing summer’s end with a taste of bountiful berries

By Heather Hintze 4:46 PM August 4, 2016

As summer slowly comes to an end, the fireweed climbs higher on the stalk, the days get a little shorter and the hills and tundra around Alaska come alive with berries.

Most weekends in July and August, you’ll find me in the mountains picking blueberries. After work last Friday, my coworker Daniella Rivera and I headed to Arctic Valley, one of the most popular places to pick around Anchorage.

Arctic Valley Blueberries

Even on a cloudy, cool evening, the hills were speckled with berry pickers. We headed up the slope above the parking lot, which seemed less crowded than the main trail. The higher we climbed, the more patches we found that hadn’t been picked over yet.

We snaked our way through the bushes, quiet except for the occasional ‘plunk’ of a berry dropping in our bucket. Two hours later we left with purple-stained fingers and pail half-full, ready for the freezer.

After nearly five years of living in Alaska, I’ve become addicted to berry picking. It’s a delicious habit that also feeds my need to bake.

Even when I’m on assignments around the state I still find time to forage. Last summer I spent a few days in Yakutat covering the arrival of their first cruise ship. While driving around the small southeast community I found the dirt road was lined with salmonberry bushes.

I stopped at the small supermarket and grabbed two plastic to-go containers. I stuffed as many salmonberries in them as I could. The lodge I was staying at had a freezer for their guests to store their fish. I took advantage and froze my berries because I was intent on bringing them home.

Two days later, my berries were frozen solid. I wrapped by to-go containers in a plastic bag and crammed them in my carry on suitcase. The berries survived the trip and made a scrumptious salmonberry pie.

Of course my pie pales in comparison to people who’ve been baking with tundra berries for years. During Iditarod 2015, we stopped at Donna Erickson’s house in Unalakleet. I’d heard legends of her desserts and was thrilled to try them in person.

Donna did not disappoint. When our crew arrived she had a full table of sweets waiting for us: salmonberry cheesecake, blueberry and cranberry muffins, and her famous blueberry delight.

The crust was buttery and packed with walnuts. It was topped with a tart blueberry compote and a fluffy mixture of cream cheese and whipped cream. I had two pieces for dinner and another piece (or two) for breakfast.

Because baking is one of my favorite past times, especially in the winter, I like to make sure I have enough berries to get me through until the next season.

The morning after our excursion to Arctic Valley, Daniella came over for brunch where I whipped up pancakes loaded with our fresh blueberries. The rest of the berries were packed up and put into the freezer.

The next day I set out for raspberries. Another coworker has a secret spot behind his house where there are raspberries as far as the eye can see. I picked until I my arms were sore, scratched and covered in red juice. In just an hour my bucket was full to the brim, six pounds of beautifully ripe raspberries.

Raspberries

I have so many berries now I ran out of Tupperware to store them in. I live in an apartment so there’s no room for an extra deep freeze. But if anyone has some extra freezer space I’d gladly trade them for a pan of muffins.

 

—–

We gathered recipes and photos from people all over the state. Below are some of the highlights of the submissions we received.

 

Dehydrating raspberries

Raspberry Brain-Boost Tea

Melissa Ingersoll shared her recipe for raspberry tea.

She said she drinks it in the winter to stay warm and happy, even when the weather turns chilly.

Her recipe uses both dehydrated and fresh raspberries — making the most of the berries now and in the future.

[ Get the recipe for Raspberry Brain-Boost Tea on this free printable recipe card ]

 

Alaska Wild Berry Pie

Alaska Wild Berry Pie

Lisa Brandstetter said though blackberry is her favorite pie, her Alaska Wild Berry Pie is definitely a close second.

“Alaska is near and dear to my heart. I love our state and all that it offers to no end. So creating a pie made from Alaska and moments shared with loved ones, is definitely something I loved doing.”

[ Get the recipe for Alaska Wild Berry Pie on this free printable recipe card ]

 

Salmonberry Liqueur

Salmonberry Liqueur

Jaime Atherton told us that after picking salmonberries, and letting them process for a week, her recipe made six pints of salmonberry liqueur.

The recipe can be used for other types of berries, as well.

[ Get the recipe for Salmonberry Liqueur on this free printable recipe card ]

 

 

Harvesting Alaska is a new featured series exploring all the ways Alaskans live off the land — from growing and foraging to fishing and crafting. We hope you’ll join us on our journey and share how you harvest Alaska. Share your recipes and ideas for upcoming articles.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Stubbs, Talkeetna’s honorary cat mayor, dies

    by Chris Klint on Jul 22, 22:25

    Stubbs, Talkeetna’s honorary cat mayor beloved by Alaskans and tourists alike, has died at the age of 20 according to the animal’s owners. Stubbs’ death was announced late Saturday in a statement from the Spone family, which purchased Nagley’s General Store and the West Rib Pub and Grill in 2015. Part of the contract, the […]

  • New White House communications director deletes old tweets contradicting Trump

    by CBS/AP on Jul 22, 19:55

    A day after accepting a top White House job, President Trump’s new communications director announced Saturday that he’s deleting old tweets that were critical of his new boss, saying his own views have evolved and that what he said in the past shouldn’t be a distraction. Full transparency: I'm deleting old tweets. Past views evolved […]

  • News

    Car-motorcycle crash hurts 2, closes Old Seward Highway south of Dowling Road

    by Chris Klint on Jul 22, 19:05

    The Old Seward Highway was closed Saturday night south of Dowling Road in both directions by a car-motorcycle collision that injured two people. Alaska road-conditions website 511.alaska.gov first mentioned the wreck at Old Seward near 69th Avenue shortly after 6 p.m. Anchorage police Sgt. Dawn Neer, at the scene, said a motorcycle had been headed […]

  • News

    Efforts continue to save Anchorage’s 4th Avenue Theatre

    by Dave Leval on Jul 22, 17:38

    There’s no denying Sandy Harper loves the 4th Avenue Theatre. “The theater has been here longer than I have,” said Harper, who has called Anchorage home for 30 years. The building has been part of the downtown Anchorage skyline for more than twice that, a span of 70 years. “I don’t think there’s anything like […]

  • Dozens hospitalized for excessive drinking at Chance The Rapper concert

    by CBS/AP on Jul 22, 17:28

    HARTFORD, Conn. — More than 90 people were hospitalized Friday during a concert featuring Chance the Rapper in Connecticut, officials said. A large number of people hospitalized were underage attendees experiencing “severe intoxication,” Hartford Deputy Chief Brian Foley said Saturday. Foley said officers made 50 underage drinking referrals Friday at Hot 93.7′s Hot Jam concert at Xfinity Theatre. […]

  • News

    Coast Guard: Kodiak missile test could occur as early as next week

    by Associated Press on Jul 22, 14:15

    KODIAK, Alaska (AP) – The U.S. Coast Guard says a launch from the Kodiak Island rocket launch complex in Alaska will occur as soon as next week. The Kodiak Daily Mirror reports a U.S. Coast Guard notice released Wednesday states the launch is scheduled to occur at the Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska between 7 p.m. on […]

  • Son charged in death of father whose body was left on couch for weeks

    by CBS/AP on Jul 22, 14:12

    FRACKVILLE, Pa. — A man has been charged with killing his father, who authorities say was shot to death and his body then left on a couch in his home for weeks. Tyler Swantek, 24, faces charges in Schuylkill County including criminal homicide, first- and third-degree murder, aggravated assault and abuse of a corpse in the […]

  • News

    Search suspended for man overboard from skiff in Prince William Sound

    by Chris Klint on Jul 22, 13:21

    The U.S. Coast Guard spent much of Friday looking for a man who fell overboard from a skiff on the west side of Prince William Sound, but was unable to locate any sign of him. Coast Guard Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios said that the man went overboard at about 2 a.m. Friday from a commercial […]