If you have picked wild strawberries (Fragaria virginiana) before, then you will understand the love-hate relationship that can develop over time with those scrumptious little berries. The sweet flavour packs a punch for being so small, but what a tedious task to pick them! There are no shortcuts when it comes to picking wild strawberries; unlike saskatoons and other berries that are more conducive to larger harvests, persistent patience is required if you want to reap the rewards of the harvest.
Wild strawberries can be found throughout the province along roadsides and other disturbed areas, as well as in open patches of forest. The small red berries can be harvested from mid-June to mid-July. They are a delicious treat enjoyed fresh with cream and a tiny sprinkle of sugar; this was one of our family’s favourite childhood treats when we would visit our granny. If you’ve managed to collect more than a couple cups, there is no end to the recipes you can make – wild strawberry and rhubarb jam, canned strawberries (even if you can only make one jar of canned wild strawberries, I would suggest doing so and saving it for a cold winter day), or wild strawberry shortcake.
Prickly rose (Rosa acicularis) start blooming around the same time that wild strawberries ripen. Widely distributed throughout lower elevations in northern British Columbia, they can be found along right of ways, on roadsides and scattered throughout coniferous forests – odds are if you look out into your yard that there is a rose bush or two growing. There is a wide variety of uses for wild rose in both the culinary and cosmetic worlds. The petals are edible and can be used fresh as a garnish on baking and salads or dry them for tea. If you’re looking for a floral touch to your breakfast, try making a batch of rose petal jam. For the ladies, you can incorporate rose petals into your skin care routine by making rosewater toner, rose-infused facial oils and gentle facial scrubs.
Both roses and wild strawberries are often found in areas that may be polluted by car exhaust and herbicides – be sure that you are picking from a spray-free area before harvesting!