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Wellness / September 18, 2016

Make the most of your wild berry haul

Written by: Renee Howard

I’ve spent the last few weeks harvesting wild berries in Alaska. It’s the tail end of berry season here, as in much of the U.S.

Maybe you’ve also spent much of the last few weeks foraging in the wilderness near your house. Or maybe you just grabbed some berries on special at the local supermarket.

In either case, it’s a good time to try these three recipes for wild berries.


Renee’s Favorite Blueberry Jam


If you have berries, there’s no reason to ever buy pre-made jam.

This recipe was inspired by a blueberry marmalade recipe years ago, and has been perfected by several seasons of experimentation.


  • 4 cups crushed blueberries
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 6 oz. liquid pectin
  • 4 cups sugar



  • Peel the lemon and both oranges. Make into a pulp, and set peels aside for zest.
  • Combine blueberries, citrus pulp and sugar in a large pot.
  • Heat to boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Allow mixture to cool for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Dice the lemon and orange zest. Mix in a small pot with water and baking soda.
  • Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain excess water.
  • Add zest mixture to berry mixture, then add liquid pectin.
  • Bring to a boil for 1 minute. Stir constantly!
  • Cool the jam, then store in a jar or can.



Blueberry BBQ sauce


This recipe was shared with me by Allie Barker, who runs an off-grid farmstead in Chickaloon, Alaska.

Barker and her husband Jed Workman have lived off the land for years now, so they know a thing or two about foraging for wild berries.

Their BBQ sauce beats out anything store bought, and is particularly good on pork.


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups onion, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • ½ cup carrots, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups blueberries (gooseberries, huckleberries, currants or other fruit)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 3 Tbs. cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbs. molasses
  • ½ cup soy sauce or Tamari
  • salt to taste
  • Herb mix: 1 Tbs. oregano, 2 Tbs. thyme, 1 Tbs. paprika, ¼ tsp. cayenne, 4 bay leaves.



  • Saute onion, celery, carrot and garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent.
  • Add herb mix and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Add fruit and remaining ingredients.
  • Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes (or until sauce thickens).
  • Remove bay leaves and set aside to cool.
  • For a smooth sauce, pulse mixture in a blender.
  • Store in a can or jar and refrigerate. Keeps for about 2 weeks.



Rhubarb Berry Crisp


I first tasted this crisp at the home of Kaylene Johnson-Sullivan, a Alaskan writer, photographer, and backcountry horse-whisperer.

It made an impression. The recipe is quick and easy, and the results are impossible to forget.


  • 5 cups diced rhubarb
  • 2 cups chopped strawberries
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon



  • Mix rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, and cornstarch together in mixing bowl.
  • Mix remaining ingredients in a separate bowl.
  • Spread fruit mixture in a greased 9″x 12″ baking pan and spread crumbly layer over top of it.
  • Bake at 375F for 40 minutes.
  • Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.


If you’ve also been harvesting wild berries in Alaska, chances are you’ll have some leftovers no matter what. For long-term preservation tips, check out the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving

about the author

Renee Howard

Renee is a photographer and writer based out of South-central Alaska. Her interest in bridging gaps between all manner of outdoor sports, philosophy, folk culture and backwoods artistry is a significant motivation for her work.

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