If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that I’m not exaggerating when I say I LOVE fruit! Plums, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, apricots…. You name it – I love it! But the one fruit that is probably my all-time favourite of them all is haskap.
What is haskap, you say? (Actually, I get that question a lot! I even wrote an article about haskaps back in 2007…)
Haskaps are probably the most delicious berries you’ve ever eaten. Some people have described the taste as a cross between raspberries and blueberries. They are sweet and packed with zingy flavour! Both the seeds and the skin are soft, so you never even notice them – they practically dissolve in your mouth.
Haskaps are some of the earliest producing fruits you can grow – with the earliest varieties ready to pick by the end of June! The later varieties extend all the way to the end of August, so with a few different cultivars, you can be eating haskaps all summer long!
The bushes themselves grow to be around 6 ft wide and tall (depending on your cultivar), and mature plants can produce around 7 kg of berries per plant each year. They are extremely hardy. They can survive -47° winters and their flowers in spring can survive -7° without harm! (Perfect for zone 3 growers!)
Although haskap berries actually grow in the wild in Canada, the tastier, “tame” cultivars have only been around for the last couple decades. I bought my first haskap seedlings 15 years ago when the University of Saskatchewan had just release their very first cultivars. At that time, those haskap berries were still very small and very tart.
Today, there are all kinds of tasty varieties. (Personally, I plan to plant 12 varieties in my orchard this fall.) The berries come in quite an assortment of shapes and sizes – but tend to be oblong and tubular in general. Even the flavour varies quite a bit from cultivar to cultivar. The larger berries grow to be about an inch long and weight a couple grams each.
So what can you do with the berries? Pretty much anything you might do with a blueberry or saskatoon! They are delicious fresh. Our kids love them on ice-cream and in smoothies. (They freeze great too!) Haskap jam is AMAZING and many people enjoy a nice glass of haskap wine! My personal favourite is haskap pie! (The ham ‘n’ haskap pizza we made wasn’t that bad either!)
Needless to say, I’m super excited to have an orchard filled with haskap! I’m sure I’ll be talking about them some more in the future!
But if you’d like a bit more information about haskap – check out the Fruit Program at the University of Saskatchewan. Or leave your comments below and I’d be happy to answer your questions!