This Random Island: Newfoundland Bakeapples

Newfoundland bakeapples often sell for a surprisingly high price, surprising only if you’ve never gone bakeapple picking. It is, to put it diplomatically, a chore. The fact that people are willing to part with the cash or endure the berry-picking torture (less-diplomatic) is a testament to how much people love them.

Some people. Not me.

I begrudge nobody their pleasure and I have no quarrel with the berry. I mean, I’ll eat them, but if I never happen across another one, that’s fine too. It’s not the tart taste that I find off-putting, its the texture.Bakeapples manage to be watery, mushy and crunchy all at the same time. I find it unpleasant. I may be in the minority on that - the berries have quite a global following.

I guess I could say a bakeapple by any other name tastes as sweet… or sour (?) because the berries are a member of the rose family. Their latin name is Rubus chamaemorus but they are better known in the English-speaking world as cloudberries, Nordic berries, knotberries, aqpik, or averin/evron depending on where you live.

While we get pretty excited about bakeapples here, we haven’t yet engraved them on our money.They are significant enough in Finland that they appear on the Finnish version of the two Euro coin. They are also the inspiration for the name of a hill in Scotland — “Beinn nan Oighreag” in Breadalbane, translates to “Hill of the Cloudberries” in Scottish Gaelic. I’ve only ever read that. I have no idea how you pronounce it.

Cultural significance aside, the bakeapple is kind of interesting botanically too. The plant shares a characteristic with the cannabis but it is not the ability to alter your consciousness. It’s the approach to sex. Both the bakeapple and cannabis plant are dioecious. That means that their ‘male’ and ‘female’ reproductive structures are on separate organisms. That’s pretty typical of animals, less so of plants (although cannabis and bakeapples are far from being alone in this characteristic). Many flowers can self pollinate because they have both ‘male’ and ‘female' structures on the same plant. Bakeapples and cannabis can’t do that and have to rely on the birds and the bees to get pollen from one plant to another.

Besides growing in a colder climate, the bakeapple has a characteristic that makes it especially suited to a place with a short growing season — the berries come equipped with their own preservative. Bakeapples are high in benzoic acid which slows down spoilage. When the berry is stored in a cool place it keeps a lot longer than other berries. Of course, if you add sugar and turn it into jam or syrup it keeps even longer… unless you’re a bakeapple fan. In that case adding a little sugar might mean the berries won’t be around long at all.

Not being a huge bakeapple aficionado  I don’t have any bakeapple recipes myself but I have sampled  a few bakeapple dishes. I have eaten bakeapple jam and, when I was a kid, a local favourite was a no-bake bakeapple cheese cake. My favourite way to eat bakeapples may be in sauce format.3 It addresses the textural issues by relying only on the berry’s juice. I love it on vanilla ice cream.

How do you like your bakeapples? Any favourite recipes? I’d be especially interested in learning about savoury applications.  What's the best way to eat them? 


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1. If you think raspberry seeds are problematic, you’ll hate bakeapples.
2. I don’t think we have. The tail of the Canadian Quarter has had so many images it’s hard to keep track. 
3. Full disclosure: I have a bottle of cloudberry gin on my shelf that I’ve yet to try so favourites are subject to change.

I’m a curious guy.  I always want to know more about the world and my place in it. ‘This Random Island’ pieces are an attempt to answer some of those questions. I set my sights on a topic, try to learn a little about it, and share what I've found.

Obviously, I’m no expert on the subject, 
but I’ll never knowingly lead you astray.

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