3 Herb Mamas

Wednesday’s Weeds: WINEBERRY

on July 23, 2014

Wine berry plant

Wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius)

I am writing this post at the start of Wineberry season in our area and we will have many more weeks to harvest. I should probably say at the outset that I will often insert, “…like raspberries” into the information I share. That is because Wineberries are not only another member of the Rubus tribe along with Raspberries and Blackberries, but one of their common names is Asian Raspberry. Their scientific name, Rubus phoenicuolasius, means raspberry with purple hairs and that name makes perfect sense if you have seen them growing throughout our woodland edges. The stems are covered in purplish-red, prickly hairs. The berries taste very similar to cultivated Raspberries with a little extra tartness that lends itself to making everything from jams to pies to ice cream. Wonderful good!

Along with other Rubus species, Wineberries were brought to this country in the 1800’s to use as breeding stock for developing new Raspberry varieties. Both Wineberries and Blackberries are not native to this country and have “escaped” and flourished here. Both are highly nutritious as well as medicinal and thus, it makes sense (at least to me) to make use of them rather than pursue eradication programs. 

Flat of Wineberries

Picking a flat of Wineberries with several friends and kids along was the work-play of a pleasant hour. These were turned into a large batch of jam before the sun set.

 

Leaves are in groups of 3, or sometimes 5, leaflets and are whitish underneath just like Raspberries. These leaves can be dried and used to make a mineral rich tea that is also pleasant. Maybe making a batch of vitamin C- and antioxidant-rich Wineberry syrup would be a nice way to sweeten this tasty tea that contains plenty of calcium. 

I will get my nerdy botanical geek self on here and point out that what we call the berry is not actually a berry strictly speaking. As with Blackberries and Raspberries, it is an “aggregate of druplets” (Rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?) with each juicy, delicious drupe containing a seed all clustered around a central receptacle. When you pick Wineberries or Raspberries the “aggregate of druplets” (Okay, I’ll stop.) comes away, leaving the receptacle on the cane, while it remains with the picked Blackberry. 

Wineberry Jam

Wineberry Jam

Wineberries can go anywhere, in the culinary sense, that Raspberries can go. Your imagination is the only limit. Wineberry jam, cake, pie, juice, jelly, sauce, syrup, and wine as well. I want to try that last one this year.

Make your own juice by placing 2 quarts of Wineberries in a saucepan, cooking for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Crush the berries well using a potato masher. Add one cup of water and simmer for 5 more minutes. Strain through cheesecloth and, voila, you have Wineberry Juice. You can sweeten this, add it to apple juice, proceed to make it into jelly or syrup or try this Wineberry Vinaigrette to dress up a salad: 

2 Cups Wineberry juice

2 Tbsp. whole Wineberries

1 tsp. Lemon juice

pinch Nutmeg

1/2 Cup local, raw Honey

1/2 Cup Red Wine or Red Wine Vinegar

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

Warm the Wineberry juice up and add everything else, stirring to combine. Bottle, label, and use freely. Adjust all ingredients to suit your tastes. Refrigerate any portions not being used right away.

 

 

Wineberry Centerpiece

Still Life with Wineberries

 

Wineberry Upside-Down Cake

Wineberry Upside-Down Cake is easily made by simply sweetening a quart of Wineberries with a little sugar or honey and placing them in the bottom of a well oiled cake pan, topping with your favorite cake batter, baking 35-45 minutes and then inverting onto a cake plate. 

Although Wineberries have not been studied scientifically to the same extent as other Rubus species, Blackberries have. Some findings for Blackberries include that it excels at accumulating zinc and other minerals from the soil, thus making these available through the leaves, fruits, twigs and roots. Studies support the traditional uses (Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic, and Western Botanical Medicine) to tone kidneys and liver, improve vision, to treat dysentery, and as a female tonic. You won’t need a spoonful of sugar to take this medicine because it is naturally delicious. 

Dig into the bounty of summertime! ~Leenie

 


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