March is when I first noticed that the salmon-berries were turning green again. For the past four months, I have been waiting patiently for the first berries of the season, and as of last weekend - they have arrived! Once the salmon-berries are ripe then the trailing blackberry, thimble-berry, huckleberry, and wild currants are right around the corner! I've seen salmon-berries ripen much earlier than the beginning of June but last weekend I was thrilled to find my first juicy yellow salmon-berry of the season.
Salmon-berries are one of the only berries that you are not advised to pick and store for later consumption. They are the juiciest of all the berries and do not transport or stack easily. They are the mushiest after a rainfall. It is best to enjoy them as you see them. The flowers are a magnificent magenta color and are also edible! The berries start out green like you can see above and once they turn yellow they are at their peak for flavor potential. They quickly go from yellow to orange-ish red and that's when the flavor can be a little bit off.
Salmon-berries are native to the pacific northwest (like all things beautiful and delicious) and can be found in moist forests, along streams, rivers, and lakes. They are especially easy to identify because of their leaves. They have three alternate leaflets at the tip of each branch. The leaves are dark green and sharply toothed. When you pull the middle leaf down, the remaining two leaves look exactly like a butterfly! It is one of my favorite tricks :)
Both the sprouts and the berries were eaten by all northwest coast peoples. The young shoots were often the first foods gathered in early spring through summer. Some groups would pat the berries together to make cakes that were often a side dish to salmon. This is likely where they got their name. My favorite bird song is sung by the Swainson's Thrush which has been nicknamed the salmonberry bird because of it's presence while the salmonberries are ripe. Nothing is more tranquil than snacking on salmon berries and listening to the birds sing. If the weather is not inspiring you to get outside this weekend, then hopefully the thought of finding these golden/ruby fruits will!