One of the benefits of farming many small fields bordered by creeks, canals and ditches is the wild fruit that we get to enjoy. In central Nebraska there are 4 varieties of wild fruit that we may get to harvest, emphasis on the MAY.
Most years we get to pick at least one and usually 2 or 3, but it is a rare year where we get to harvest all four crops. Late spring freezes, hail, insects and birds all take their toll. This year was one of the rare years and I picked all four.
The first fruit that ripens is the mulberry. Mulberry trees are kind of a pest and we don't like them around the yard. When birds eat the berries their poo turns an awful purple color that stains terrible. These mulberries grow on Buffalo Creek and one tree is a white mulberry. It is even sweeter than a normal mulberry. Makes great pies. They were ripe the first of July.
The next fruit that ripens are chokecherries. They are small purple to black berries that will really make you pucker when eaten raw. Cooked, however, with enough sugar and they are wonderful. They make great jelly and even better pies. The problem with pies is pitting all the seeds out. Most of the cherry is pit and not much left over for pie. I picked the chokecherries the middle of July.
Next up on the fruit bandwagon are wild grapes. They usually ripen about mid August. Wild grape vines are hard to find and I'm not telling where mine are. Wild grapes vines don't bear every year. Sometimes they take a few years off, so you never know which vine will have fruit on it. Sometimes they climb trees and the fruit is 20 feet in the air. This year I was laying on the ground cutting the wild grapes.
The final fruit of the year are the wild plums. This is the fruit by which Lexington got its original name Plum Creek. Plum thickets grow all over and are ripe about September 1. This year they are plentiful and are not ripening all at once. As I write there are still ripe plums out there. Wild plums are not purple like domestic but are red/orange.
Barb has processed all this wonderful goodness to jams, jellies and pies. The wild fruits make a nice change of pace from the domestic fruit that we buy or pick. The wild fruit just has a unique flavor that can't be described.