It’s that time of year in Fairbanks when the cranberries are ready for picking. Last year we did no berry picking – we didn’t know where to find them. I was afraid that this year would be the same, with the plants in our backyard only producing a few handfuls. But then Lee and I went for a walk on labor day. I can’t tell you where. Real Alaskans don’t reveal their prime picking spots (hence not knowing where to go picking). But we went for a walk on a hill near town. It was a place I’d never been. As we walked down the trail, the woods to our left opened up to reveal a grove over grown with lowbush cranberries. It was a sight to behold! But alas, we were without containers, so had to return another day.
That day came on Thursday. The week had gotten away from us and I was worried the berries would all be gone. Surely someone else must know about this place. At 7:30 at night, we got in the car, berry container in hand (old milk jug with the top cut wide) and returned to our secret spot.
Now, the sun has begun setting earlier and earlier, so we had about an hour and a half of usable daylight. I hurried down the trail, not waiting for Lee as he took pictures of the sun setting on the golden birch trees. Seriously, man! We have berries to pick! As I was walking (jogging) down the trail, I heard rustling in the trees next to me. Some one was in the trees picking cranberries! Crap! I thought. There really won’t be any left. But she wasn’t in our grove, so I kept on jogging.
Aren’t they sweet? Juicy too! The knees on my jeans were all red with berry juice from kneeling.
We left with a gallon of cranberries picked only in an hour! Pretty impressive, I’d say. I’ll be going back again this weekend in hopes we can get more.
In the meantime, we have a gallon of cranberries frozen in the freezer.
And a new book on Alaskan wild berries and how to cook them.