The newest, weirdest, surprisingly pleasing superfood
Haskap. How do you say that? Just as it sounds – with an “a” like “at” or “hat”. Doesn’t reel off the tongue with great ease, nor does it recall easily, since it sounds like nothing else you might hear in regular conversation. It is said to derive from a Japanese word; I’m sure there’s a gentler Japanese pronunciation than the awkward noise I’ve heard people make when referring to this berry. They are known by prettier monikers, too: edible honeysuckle, blue honeysuckle and honeyberry. This is a trick. It’s meant to make them sound so lovely that you fail to notice how ugly they are. You won’t.
There’s no way you could call these things pretty. I think the visual comparisons are immediate and thoroughly off-putting, (at least that my mind, perhaps you’re less squeamish or prone to imagination), so I’ll refrain from naming them. Not pleasant to behold in the slightest.
What they are, though, is incredible tasty, which I only discovered by forcing myself to try one. First bite seemed mouth-puckeringly sour, next bite was all sweetness and joy. Which is great, because they are really, really good for you.
“Haskap berries are high in Vitamin C and A, fiber, and potassium. Specifically, they have three times the antioxidants of a blueberry, more vitamin C than an orange and almost as much potassium as a banana. They are extremely high in antioxidants such as Anthocyanins, Poly Phenols, and Bioflavonoids.” LaHave Berry River Farm
I don’t know how many berries it takes to defeat an orange, but let’s accept that they are nutrient rich, shall we? Now, not every fruit or vegetable is best consumed raw, but Vitamin C and antioxidants are easily lost through heat, and the raw taste is so lovely, let’s go with it. Most people describe them as tasting like a mixture of blueberry and raspberry, with varying third influences such as Honey Crisp apples, elderberry or black currant. I think the more common association with black grapes is the most apt. And I gotta tell ya; ya put those all together, and —strange as it sounds—somehow it works.
They are quite addictive once you get a taste for them, but what to DO with such an unappealing mutt of a berry? They are apparently a bit watery when baked, which can be easily remedied by using a small amount of haskap berries with a pectin-rich fruit like a plum (skin-on for more pectin and firmness). I’m guessing such a combo would make a heavenly pie.
But this is the new superfood! We must find a way to enjoy the fabulous raw taste while – if at all possible – concealing the look of the hideous little beasts. So I went with a boring old smoothie.
A smoothie seems such a waste, and especially paired with blueberry, which could easily drown out the unique flavour of the haskap berries. But my wild blueberries got smushed and dampened in the delivery box, so there was nothing for it but to give it a whirl, so to speak. Just berries – haskap and blueberry – and a touch of watermelon to keep it sweet, light, and refreshing. Vegan, too.
It was scrumptious. So delectable, the pickiest of toddlers would gulp it down, no added sugar. I tried swapping out the watermelon for yoghurt and a touch of water (milk coated the berries in a cloying manner). Also fabulous. No added sugar necessary!
Try this smoothie/slushie. And try haskap berries when you can get your hands on them, anyway you like: in fruit salads, scones, pancakes or in a honey-sweetened cooked sauce. Roasted or raw on a green salad with cherries and goat cheese and almonds. Or a coulis, blitzed and strained. Make people guess what that is on their cheesecake. Or poundcake, ice cream or meringue. Or baked brie.
Haskap Berry Slushie
- 1 cup haskap berries
- 1 cup blueberries, preferably wild
- 1 cup cubed watermelon, seeds removed
- ¼ cup water
- ½ cup ice (otional)
- Throw your ingredients together in a blender until desired texture is acheived. I like it a little pulpy for extra fibre.
TRIGGER WARNING: BUGS
Bonus: if you have little children that love eating bugs, especially in defiance of parental rules and common decency, just tell them you’ve collected some very sizable larvae or baby slugs for them to eat and let them chase the neighbours’ kids through the yard. It’s a superfood AND an exhilarating pastime!