There are many places along local roads here where Thimbleberry bushes are abundant, and right now they are loaded with fruit. The sight of the berries becoming bright red and ripe is exciting. Here is the Thimbleberry-laden shoulder at the foot of Coyle Road, where it meets Dabob Post Office Road in Quilcene, well east of town.
The trouble with harvesting Thimbleberries is that you really don't get very much fruit per pick! So, collecting a sizeable amount of them really takes hours. The edible red part is just a very shallow and fragile cap that pops off of the convex core part that stays behind.
The season lasts a long, long time and often the very ripe fruit is surrounded by old dried fruit well past it's prime, alongside hard green berries just forming.
The unassuming Thimbleberry bush itself is kind to the harvester. It's not very tall, the berries are presented prominently, and it has no stickers that I have ever noticed. The leaves are big, soft and fuzzy with a pretty Maple-leaf shape.
BELOW: After about 2.5 hours of picking, I had amassed just under a gallon of lovely red T-berries, and here they are after very careful hand-cleaning. I find their flavor rather savory, not super-sweet like a typical berry. So, I added a bit of salt to the preserves, along with a modest amount of sugar. My idea is that the Thimbleberry jam will be lovely on a pork chop or chicken breast, for example. It's great on biscuits - we immediately tried them that way!
I also canned up some wild blackberries from our driveway while I was fixing up the Thimbleberries. As I had walked the dog during the earlier wild Blackberry season, I'd collect about a sandwich baggie's worth every day and I collected all these baggies together into a larger bag in the freezer. It made really good jam!! The wild blackies have a deep, sweet soulful taste. I'm delighted with it.
Thimbleberry meat is fairly dry compared to other berries. When I was cooking up the jam before canning it, I added several generous splashes of the Danish "Cherry Heering" liqueur to add some juiciness. It's really good and I'll definitely do it that way again next time!
Here are some interesting links to Thimbleberry info:
The Thimbleberry Jam Lady and she makes T-berry "chow-chow", hmmmm....
USDA Plant info - They have a nice pic of the pretty crepe-y flower in springtime.
Everything you ever wanted to know about T-berries at rook.org!