Gooseberries! I love a good gooseberry pie… unfortunately, not many people grow these anymore! My grandparents just ripped out their bushes in favor of lingonberries (not that I don’t like lingonberries) and I was very upset. There are two kinds of gooseberries - American and European. European gooseberries can be almost as big as a small plum, while American gooseberries are around the size of a marble. Gooseberry bushes are very hardy (we get up to -75 windchill in the winter and they do just fine) and not very picky about their soil, as long as it’s fairly well drained. They’re also very prolific - one bush can give you 8-10lbs of fruit! When gooseberries ripen, they turn a beautiful, deep reddish purple. Depending on what you’re making, you may want ripe (sweeter) or more green berries (quite tart, but still delicious).
Figs! I’ve been finding lot of recipes lately that include figs, so I thought I’d learn a little more about them. Most figs come from the common fig tree (Ficus carica), a species in the ficus genus (which has 850 different species, mostly figs). The fig may also be the first plant cultivated by humans - fossils in the Jordan Rift Valley indicate figs may have been cultivated up to a thousand years before wheat and rye. I think the coolest part about figs is their symbiotic relationship with fig wasps. A female wasp will crawl inside a fig’s flower and pollinate it while laying her eggs. The eggs get a safe place to develop and hatch and the figs get pollinated!
“The scuppernong is a large variety of muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia), a species of grape native to the southeastern United States. It is usually a greenish or bronze color and is similar in appearance and texture to a white grape, but rounder and larger and first known as the ‘big white grape’. The grape is commonly known as the “scuplin” in some areas of the Deep South. It is also known as the “scupanon”, “scupadine” or “scufadine” in some parts of the South.”
No, you’re not seeing things—that tree is growing its fruit right from the trunk. This particular Brazilian native offers up fruit that’s both delicious and multitalented, and what’s more, it might make the perfect harvest tree for apple pickers with acrophobia. Click through for a photo series from Kuriositas, as well as a background on this curious tree. — MN