The bright red fruits (and reddening leaves) of Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum opulus) are starting to appear. Contrary to that which its name implies, this shrub is not a cranberry – it is a Viburnum, a member of the Caprifoliaceae, or Honeysuckle, family. The fruit resembles cranberries, matures in the fall like cranberries, is tart tasting, and is rich in Vitamin C like cranberries, all of which most likely contributed to its common name.
The fruit is acidic and persists through the winter. It is more or less a “last resort” food source for birds, but those birds that do eat it prefer to do so after the fruit has been frozen and thawed, which reduces the acidic content. People also consume the fruit in the form of jellies, jams, juice and smoothies. A recipe for juice, from http://www.ediblewildfood.com follows:
Highbush Cranberry Juice
3 cups water
2 cups highbush cranberries (they can remain on the wooden umbels so long as they look healthy)
2 cups orange juice
1 tsp. maple syrup
Bring water to boil then turn stove off. Place the berries into the water and slightly mash. Let sit 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, thoroughly strain. Allow this cranberry liquid to thoroughly cool. Once cool, add the orange juice and maple syrup; stir. Store in fridge up to 5 days.
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