I wrote this article for CityPalate Magazine this summer after trying to find these elusive berries. Have a read. -Erin
“Have you seen any of these?” Like a culinary detective hunting an elusive suspect, I flash a photo at a clerk at the market. “Sorry, no.” I try again next door. “I’m looking for these. Know who’s got any?” “Can’t help you.”
I get similar reactions from people all over the market until I run out of fruit stands. Yes, fruit stands. I’m looking for a berry, and though it’s said to be one of the most prolific in Alberta and western Canada, I’m met with inquisitive looks every time I ask about it.
The haskap berry is poised to become the next superfruit, depending on what you read. It’s also got a reputation for having a flavour like nothing you’ve ever tasted, as if a raspberry, a blueberry and some mysterious tropical fruit all got together and threw a summer backyard party in your mouth.
A haskap berry resembles a larger and more elliptical blueberry. It has the same mottled violet-cobalt skin you’d find on the outside of a blueberry, but it can grow up to 4 cm long.
After hearing tales of the haskap berry in culinary circles, I wanted to try it for myself. But getting my hands on haskaps in Calgary proved much more challenging than I’d expected.
You can thank a plant scientist in Saskatchewan for introducing haskap berries to most of North America.
Bob Bors works for the University of Saskatchewan in the Plant Sciences Department, and many people in this trade refer to him as the Grandfather of Haskap. A fruit breeder by profession, he’s made his mark on the world by being strategic when it came to choos- ing his plant specialization. Wanting to stand out from the crowd, he elected not to focus on more common berries, but to find something unique and unusual – haskaps.