Monday, December 13, 2010

The Most Delicious Berries You've Probably Never Tasted

I recently finished harvesting my crop of Ugni molinae, or Chilean Guava berries. I was given my first plant as a gift and wasn't all that impressed with its boxwood-esque look. Little did I know what deliciousness awaited. Once the tiny red berries start to ripen, the heady-sweet-fruity aroma will bowl you over. I planted a foundation hedge of Ugnis and this year my entire front yard smelled so sweet with the ripening berries. The taste is hard to describe. The best I can manage is strawberry/blueberry with hints of cinnamon and vanilla. It's good.

ugni berriesitty bitty ugni

bowl o' ugniugni molinae

It is said that Queen Victoria's favorite jam was made from Ugni berries. I got a large enough crop for only about one jar of jam but decided to go for it anyway. I couldn't find a recipe anywhere on the web so I had to wing it. The berries are kind of dry so I added water with the sugar. Things were going well and it was beginning to set up when I realized I hadn't sterilized my jars (jar). Rushing to do that I let the sugar crystalize so my jam became candied Ugni berries instead. Oh well! I've been sprinkling them on granola, bowls of ice cream and I'm thinking about making a pumpkin/Ugni bread. So many uses! And next year I'll perfect the jam and we'll see what Queen Victoria was so wild about.

crystalized ugni

3 comments:

  1. i just planted these on my edible front nature strip garden. like you i wasn't too impressed with their boxwood likeness, now i'm excited about their berries. thanks

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  2. If you're just making one jar and you're going to eat it relatively soon (i.e., months), I don't think you don't have to sterilize. That's for long-term storage. It's totally counter-intuitive, but the high concentration of sugar (assuming you added jelly- or jam-like sugar levels) actually inhibits bacterial growth. If you open a jar of jam, it will be fine in your refrigerator for quite a long time--much longer than milk or meat for example.

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  3. (The initial cooking does a lot of the bacterial killing.)

    Anyway. I finally planted a couple of these too, and like you, I also had to overcome the boxwood objection. Actually, Claire convinced me. When you add the fruit as a bonus, this plant is a no-brainer.

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