Forage Wild Rowan Berries for a Cranberry Substitute (with Swedish Meatball Recipe)


| 9/28/2016 1:38:00 PM


Tags: food foraging, wild fruit, wild edibles, fruit trees, Marion Gabriela Wick, Denmark, Germany,

 "sweet" rowan berries 

Rowan berries are acrid and sour and how the heck can you eat them?

Some people believe that they are poisonous too. Which is true, at least a little, because the raw ones contain a substance causing nausea, if too many raw berries are eaten. But in fact, it’s almost impossible to eat a sickening amount of raw rowans, because they do taste awful, really!

Once cooked, they are completely safe to eat and also have lost the acrid fraction of their taste, which then has turned into kind of a pleasant bitterness.

Here, in Atlantic northern Europe, people are quite familiar with using rowans in recipes one normally would use cranberries in. Rowans are a good replacement. Cranberries need very low soil PH and don’t agree with our Atlantic winters. Due to warm Gulf Stream drift towards our shores, it happens, that a change of wind direction from east to west can cause temperature jumps from -20 to + 40 degrees Fahrenheit and back down within a couple of days. Cranberry shrubs would lose their buds once they thaw out and re-freeze. Rowan trees are much more tolerant against “yoyo-style temperatures”.

If you want to pick rowans, go for the plump red ones, the small, bright orange or yellowish berries taste far worse than those. Red and orange berries grow on different shrubs/small trees. They are actually two different kinds of rowan trees, very closely related. Here in northern Europe, people call the dark ones “sweet rowans” though they aren’t sweet at all.




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