Haskap Berries, What is all the hype?
If you have reached this webpage your are obviously wondering what is all of this stuff about Haskap berries? Well, they really are not a new to us berry. They have been around for a very long time, but the better tasting plant varieties are relatively new to North America. The Japanese have been consuming this berry for hundreds of years.
Haskap berries are in a group of berries that contain very high levels of very healthful nutrients. Berries that contain these types of nutrients provide a means for us to consume high levels of these healthy nutrients easily in a small amount of food. They are similar in nutrient content to Elderberries, Black Currants, Aronia berries, and Goji berries (more on the health benefits below). However, Haskap berries have a key characteristic that makes them stand out from the rest of the so-called ‘super’ berries, and this is the taste. The commercially developed varities are easily consumed fresh. The taste is quite often compared to a cross between raspberry and blueberry, with a vitamin C zing.
The Haskap plant is also known as Blue Honeysuckle, Honeyberry, Sweet Berry Honeysuckle, and Swamp Fly Honeysuckle. They are found growing naturally in northern boreal forest areas, typically in the transition areas between forest and wet areas, in North America, Russia and specifically the Kuril Islands in Japan. They have also been found growing in mountainous regions.
In Atlantic Canada we have a native species called Acadian Honeysuckle, but the berries are not all that great when compared to the commercially grown varieties.
So why do we, as Canadians, call this plant Haskap rather than Honeysuckle, or Honeyberry? The University of Saskatchewan have used the term Haskap to describe the varieties that they have developed from their fruit program by Dr. Bob Bors. From there the name has stuck, and our US counterparts quite often refer to the U of S plants as Canadian Haskap.
Dr. Maxine Thompson has developed varieties in the US, where all of the parent plants were Japanese varieties.
The University of Saskatchewan has likely the largest collection of Haskap plants. Their fruit program has been breeding Haskap varieties for the North American commercial market, and they continue to develop newer varities. For more information please see this link: https://research-groups.usask.ca/fruit/Fruit%20crops/haskap.php .
Haskap Berry Health Benefits
Haskap berries are high in Vitamin C and A, fiber, and potassium. Specifically they have three times the antioxidants of a blueberry, more vitamin C than an orange and almost as much potassium as a banana. They are extremely high in antioxidants such as Anthocyanins, Poly Phenols, and Bioflavanoids.
There have been quite a few studies done to date, and more studies are in the progress.
One study that was released in the European Journal of Nutrition shows the benefits of taking a Haskap berry extract on cognition, mood, and blood pressure in older adults. The full article can be found here. Just imagine the health benefits you could obtain from this berry if you consumed it all of your life. There is a reason why the Haskap berry has been called the ‘berry of long life’.
This study from 2020 is especially interesting as it delves into many more health benefits: https://lahaveriverberryfarm.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/molecules-25-00749-1.pdf
Haskap Berries What Do You Do With Them?
Like Raspberries, Blueberries, and Blackberries, Haskap berries are used in exactly the same fashion.
They are sold fresh, frozen, dried and in value added products. Fresh and frozen Haskap berries are becoming very popular.
However, there is word of warning. Haskap berries are not always harvested at the correct time. What this means is that a grower has failed to harvest them when they are fully ripe. A Haskap berry can look great on the outside, but can be very green and sour on the inside.
If you are purchasing Haskap berries, and they are fresh, try one out. If you get a sour, greenish taste they are definitely not ripe. When Haskap berries are not ripe they will not make a good product nor will they taste very good. A fully ripened Haskap berry should be purple throughout, and have a fairly strong flavour, with a bit of zing from the high amounts of vitamin C. As a note the larger Haskap berries may not be purple all the way through the berry, but if they are ripe the taste should be excellent.
Looking for Haskap products see our Shop Page.