New York

Juneberries: Foods You Can Forage For in NYC

Now that summer is imminent, all sorts of fresh produce is in season, including one sweet treat you won’t find at your local farmers’ market. “Wildman” Steve Brill, expert ecologist and forager extraordinaire, tells you how to track down the delectable juneberry, one of the 10 fine edibles he says you can forage for in NYC’s parks.


How to find them These diverse shrubs or small trees have smooth to slightly furrowed, ash-gray to blackish bark and stalked leaves about two inches long. The five-petal, white flowers usually bloom early in the spring, before the leaves appear. The blue-black round berries, which are red before they ripen, resemble blueberries and are ready for picking in June (hence their name). There are no poisonous lookalikes, as no poisonous berry has a crown. Look for juneberries in woods, along streams and lakes, in thickets, clearings, cultivated parks and even on the grounds of landscaped garden apartment complexes.

How to eat them These delicious berries, related to apples, are quite unique, with a strong, sweet and penetrating flavor, like a combination of apples, blueberries and almonds. In a recipe, Steve usually supplements them with other fruits to stretch them. You can make your favorite blueberry muffin recipe using juneberries, and Steve says he’s baked his best cobblers with this fruit. The berries also make great jam, as they contain pectin so you don’t need much thickener.

Find more fresh picks See Steve’s other finds: yellow wood sorrel, chicken mushrooms, lamb’s quarters and burdock, and keep an eye out for future posts as we count down his top 10 wild edibles. Also, Steve’s SideTour is chockfull of gatherable goodies, as is his definitive smartphone app for foraging, Wild Edibles (for iOS and Android).

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