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Berry season in Newfoundland is a beautiful thing. Aside from the fact that the boggy land and salt-filled air are far from conducive to traditional agriculture, the island is ripe for the picking with a mind-boggling variety of berries. Blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are joined by the likes of partridgeberries, serviceberries, and bakeapples.
The bakeapple, also known as the cloudberry, is a plump, golden-orange berry that looks like it is seconds away from bursting at the seams. Inside are some seriously hard seeds. But biting into one of these is a worthwhile risk for a taste of the delicate, honey-sweet flesh of this berry.
So how did the bakeapple get its name The common lore holds that a French explorer arrived to a patch of odd-looking berries and asked what they were called. The English language took the French for \"berry\" (baie) and \"to call\" (appeler), bastardized it, and the bakeapple was born.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, cloudberries are used to make "bakeapple pie" or jam. Arctic Yup'ik mix the berries with seal oil, reindeer or caribou fat (which is diced and made fluffy with seal oil) and sugar to make "Eskimo ice cream" or akutaq. The recipes vary by region. Along the Yukon and Kuskokwim River areas, white fish (pike) along with shortening and sugar are used. The berries are an important traditional food resource for the Yup'ik.
Families will generally go for day trips or a holiday to the bakeapple grounds from the end of July through September, depending on when the bakeapples ripen. Largely, interviewees consider this variability to be normal.
Almost half of the participants describe how the temperatures in both the spring (April and May) and the summer (June, July, and August) determine the ripening time. With a shorter spring and earlier summer the bakeapples will ripen sooner. Also, about a third of participants explain that the time when bakeapples ripen depends on location, and can be as late as early September if the berries are in a sheltered spot where they receive less sun or on an island farther from the mainland.
About a third of participants emphasized that the weather during the spring and summer of the year is a key factor in the abundance of that season. Interviewees explained that in the spring if there are strong winds (between 40 to 60 km/h) or a downpour of rain then the bakeapple blossom can be destroyed because it is particularly sensitive until the shuck has closed in. Interviewees also explain that the weather during the summer is very important. Extreme warm temperatures (above 25 Celsius) can destroy the fruit.
In addition to the importance of weather, ecological constraints on bakeapple growth were identified and characterized by interviewees and through field surveys. Interviewees described the optimal ecological conditions for bakeapple growth. Almost all explained that bakeapples are found in the boggy but not overly wet areas.
A diagram of the vulnerability of bakeapple picking to physical and social changes. The exposures are in green; the adaptive capacities are in purple; the sensitivities are in orange. The local scale is marked with a dotted black square. The current and historical components are indicated on the left of the figure. Arrows show the interactions between different components
Few families can take a holiday to return to their summer homes, which can be hours away by boat, for bakeapple picking. More commonly, they will take day trips to nearby bakeapple picking grounds, less than a half hour away by boat.
Community members explained that when not all the bakeapples are ripe they have to make multiple day trips back to the same berry patch over the course of the two weeks or so it takes all the bakeapples to ripen. It is more challenging for community members, in terms of finances and time, to deal with temporal and spatial variability in the ripening of bakeapples living farther from the bakeapple picking grounds.
Because the speedboat reduces travel time, individuals can more easily get to a nearby bakeapple picking spot before or after work. The speedboat has -also encouraged families to explore new bakeapple picking spots.
Two participants considered the cost of gasoline to be a barrier to bakeapple picking. A woman, a picker for almost 70 years, said that she and her husband spend $40 per trip on gasoline making bakeapple picking too expensive compared to when she was growing up and could just walk to the bakeapple grounds. Also, two noted the difficulties arising from either not owning a boat or having rented out the boat for work.
Because an increasing number of the younger generation places less value on family bakeapple picking and bakeapples as a food source, the cultural and nutritional value that families currently place on bakeapples may not be a source of adaptive capacity in the future.
"They're called bakeapple because when the sun shines, they smell like apple pie," said Martin Foley, owner of the Gannet's Nest Restaurant and RV Resort. ("Resort" being used loosely here.)He should know since his Irish forebears landed on this remote and foggy coast of Newfoundland some 300 years ago.
She also talked about picking bakeapple. "See the bogland there," she said with an expansive wave of her arm. "That's what they grows on. You go out to the mahshes and picks 'em. But they're all gone now it's been so hot --all dried up on the mahshes. We had to drive three hours just to find them."The oder berries is easy, but bakeapple, oy god, them's hard. They got this big old shuck you have to pull out of every one."
But a little jar of that elusive bakeapple was $10 while a little jar of partridgeberry jam was half that. I am very Scotch, so I bought the partridgeberry and decided to wait on the bakeapple, since I figured that delayed gratification makes the object of desire so much sweeter.
Days later, on the west coast of the island in a tiny grocery store in the middle of Gros Morne National Park I found it. There on the counter were three pint-sized jars of bakeapple, handpicked and locally canned. (They call it "bottled" in Newfoundland.) I bought one and took my treasure to the campsite to sample.
Bakeapple is a big, puffy berry, like a raspberry on steriods. When it's ripe, it turns a beautiful golden amber. Some describe the taste of bakeapple as like honey or apricots, but I think that's what its color suggests.
The taste is hard to describe. It's lightly sweet and delicate. But the most noticeable thing about bakeapple is the seeds. It has large, crunchy seeds, so you can't be discreet when sampling bakeapple. You will sound like you are chewing rocks. You will have a hard time carrying on a conversation because of the crunching in your ear. I think bakeapple tastes good, but I couldn't quite get to the taste because I was trying to figure out what to do with the clump of masticated seeds in my mouth.
I think cloudberries bakeapples only grow in the wild in Atlantic Canada especially Newfoundland and Labrador. I have never seen any cultivated ones. Perhaps there are some though. They are also found in the Scandanavian countries, I believe.
Hello Robin282!I come from a place where bakeapples are prevalent (the Lower North Shore of Quebec). I personally don't know if you would ever be able to get a bakeapple to grow in a domestic garden. If you could see where they grow on the wild you would probably be disheartened. It's peat bog and marsh all the way. Believe me I know, I picked enough of 'em growing up in those parts. I believe the cool coastal breezes also have a big impact on the way they grow. I don't want to burst your bubble but it would probably be easier to make some friends in Newfoundland or on Quebec's Lower North Shore and get them to send you some jam!
Hello Again,I am still looking for the cloudberry/bakeapple. I Have gotten most other Rubus species that I have been looking for including, dewberry, wineberry, tayberry, thimbleberry, and salmonberry--in addition to the red, black, and gold rasperries I have.
Hey Robin,I too recently set out to find bakeapple plants, and I did find a grower (it turns out it was a very old post)from an internet search and found the link to her nursery. I called this lady and asked her about the plants he said that all of her efforts (over several years) in attempting to grow this plant commercially for introduction in home gardens was futile. She went into great detail about all the controlled environment and controlled temperatures etc and the settings that were tried and failed. She basically stated like several here have stated, they require a near Artic chill with very long chill hours that are impossible to replicate anywhere in the US, and very specific growing conditions, (ie: the marsh and bog type enviroment). She said that even if you can germinate or propogate the plants, they do not survive and never bore fruit.
My mom is from Newfoundland where of course these plants are found and boy oh boy theres' nothing better than bakeapple jam...I'm sure this wont be any consellation to you, but IKEA does sell cloudberry preserves, and it's the real deal. I gave a sampling to my "Newfie" mom and it was confirmed to be authentic tasting ;)
Hi,if your still interested in those bakeapples I can send some plants to you if you likeThere are lots just behind my house.Let me know what you want piked,how you want them dug up(alot of moss or just plant)and how to tell the sexes so you get both before the frost sets in. 59ce067264