Putting up the delicious foraged
plunder of summer picnics is well
worth it—if you don’t eat it first
By Jordan Champagne
Photography by John Cox
Wild berry picking—especially when combined with a picnic in a beautiful place—is one of the great simple adventures found throughout the world. One of my favorite wild berry-picking memories was in summer in Norway. We picked wild blueberries and raspberries near a farm we were living on and then ate them with fresh cream from the Jersey cow that night. Berries and cream is still to this day one of my favorite desserts of all time!
If you’re able to find and pick enough berries to preserve for later, however, you’ll be glad you did: Like dry-farmed tomatoes, berries left to grow without watering have an intense, concentrated flavor that really pops when made into jam.
Here in the Monterey Bay area, strawberries, blackberries, huckleberries and thimbleberries all grow wild, often near small streams when you can find them, and all will work for the recipe below.
Just use common sense and, if you’re not an expert at wild food identification yourself, bring one along—or at least pack a good wild food guidebook, like The Flavors of Home by Margit Roos-Collins. (Never consume a wild plant without being certain of its identity and that it is edible.)
Then pack a picnic and let the memories begin!
Jordan Champagne is the co-owner and founder of Happy Girl Kitchen Co. She has a passion for preserving the local, organic harvest and loves sharing her secrets at the workshops she teaches across the region.
EXPLORE: For a list of EMB contributors’ favorite picnic spots, some of which offer good berry picking in season, go to
www.ediblemontereybay.com and click on the “LOCAL FOOD GUIDES” tab.
At Edible Monterey Bay, our mission is to celebrate the local food cultures of Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey Counties, season by season.