Saturday, August 7, 2010


From Seed to Berry in One Season! Our chichiquelites were finally ready yesterday! These little berries are also called "Garden Huckleberries" (Solanum nigrum). They resemble the small wild blueberries but without the flavour of the fresh berry. Chichiquelites do have sweetness and flavour but only when they are fully ripe. Just black and shiny is not ripe enough. You have to wait for them to get dull and a bit softer, then they are very good raw.

The best way to pick chichiquelites at the peak of ripeness is to pick by cluster, rather than berry. If the entire cluster is black, pick them. If there are a few green berries still in the cluster, leave them until they are all ripe. This is the rule of thumb that I have been using and they are very good ripe. They are not bitter or bad tasting when they are not ripe enough. There is just not much flavor there until they are cooked down.

These little gems really come into their own when they are cooked, however! When cooked down with sugar, they do resemble blueberries in taste and are very good! Chichiquelites look like blueberries when they are cooked. They have the same dark purple colour and will probably make excellent organic soap colour, if we don't eat them all. They produce a lot for such a small space and short time!

I do have other berry bushes in my berry and wine garden, but they take years to produce. I needed something that would produce fruit immediately. I got that with the chichiquelites and ground cherries and I am very happy with them both. I have not yet made pie with the ground cherries but intend to do so in the next few days.

Do remember to save seeds for planting next year. I saved a lot of chichiquelite seed this weekend. We'll be planting many more next year than we did this year. I now have an envelope full of dried chichiquelite seed for next year!

This being our first year to grow them, I had to test the chichiquelites out in a pastry. I used some bits of leftover pastry from a previous pie baking last week to make these two little turnovers. Hubby and son pronounced them "fantastic" and "delicious!" They are shocked and pleased that we grew these berries ourselves this year.

I will be making some chichiquelite jelly in the coming week, I think.

We will definitely plant chichiquelites and ground cherries again next year!

How about you? Do you grow these and do have a favourite recipe?


Carol said...


Wretha said...

I have questions... ;)

Do the plants have thorns or other nasty things to discourage picking?

Do the plants come back year after year or do you have to replant?

How big do the plants get?

Do you have any trouble with deer or other critters eating your plants or berries?

What zone do you live in?

Do the plants like full sun or partial sun?

Do the plants require lots of water?

Where do you get seeds?

Would you be interested in sharing some seeds? (I'd be willing to send a self addressed stamped envelope or pay via PayPal for some seeds).


Frugal Life UK said...

thanks for that, i've never heard of them, we have black berries and black currants, both of which are divine

Granny J said...

I'd never heard of those berries. I wonder if they grow in the midwest or just in the higher altitudes. Getting berries the first year is a definite plus. With the berry vines it usually take a few years to get a crop.

Those turnovers look delicious. I prefer turnovers to pie.

A Better Version of Me said...

berry and wine garden! Sounds like heaven:)))

Diane@Peaceful Acres said...

Oh yes! I planted Garden Huckleberries this year! I didn't go out full force because I wasn't sure what to expect. I think I only allowed 3 plants to grow. Too bad! Thanks for this post. BC I had no idea what I was growing! I can't wait to harvest even if it is a few handfuls!

Patrice said...

I have never heard of these. Since we have a market garden, we gets tons of garden catalogs. I don't ever remember seeing these. Now I'm on a search. I want to plant some. Did they produce the first year? If you said in the post, I read right over it-sorry. You are a wealth of information. Thanks. Blessings!

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

I will try to answer all of your questions and anyone elses, hopefully. If you want some more information that you cannot find here, please let me know. It may be something I just haven't thought of.

I am in zone 5 and not in a high altitude.

They do not have thorns or anything to make picking difficult.

I have deer and they have not eaten them. That said, I also have a big dog but he is fenced out of the garden. I have more racoons than deer and nothing is eating my berries. Thankfully, the groundhog found better quarters with the addition of the dog!

I plant mine in a chicken manure filled and well mulched lasagna garden with lots of leaves for mulch, compost and more chicken manure. Its really an amazing garden for growing things. My chichiquelite berry bushes are about 3' tall and 3' round. My ground cherries plants are bigger than I, or anyone else, have ever seen.

I don't know about water. I watered everything during the extreme dry spell and high temps we had earlier in the year, by hand and only when necessary and they didn't wilt. The mulch helps keep the soil from drying out a lot in that garden too.

Don't get me wrong, my veggie gardens are a real mess. Overgrown with grass and jungle weeds. Its only my little wine and pie garden that's mulched, weeded and babied.

They are annuals, but reseed themselves everywhere. I pull any volunteers and replant new in the spring, as their close relative, deadly nightshade, grows in the field. They don't cross pollinate, but plants look similar when small.

Mine are in mostly sun, with a little shade in the morning, being planted adjacent to the taller ground cherries - something I am going to change next year. It doesn't seem to have lessened them any.

I will have lots of seeds for next year. This fall (Nov?) I think I am going to open a small store on my blog selling seed combo packets (chichiquelites and ground cherries in one packet) among other things. I will price them very reasonably and include postage and will have a shopping cart through Paypal.

I am looking to trade seeds for a few specific things I am looking for. I think I'll post a seed trading blog soon... :-)

Patrice said...

Oops! I just reread. The first thing it said was "one season." I feel dumb now:( I'm on a mission to find the seed now.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

I am happy to trade seeds! Here's what I am looking for specifically:

lemon cucumbers (fermented, dried seed)

The following are edible native berries I want to add to my wine and pie garden. I would like fresh overripe berries with seed intact, still in the smushed fruit, right off the plant, sent immediately before they dry out, sealed in a zip lock baggie.

choke cherry
mandarin cherry
sweet viburnam (sheepberry)
sea buckthorn (Hippophae)
Oregon grape
barberry with large berries
Indian plum
salal (Gaultheria shallon)
logan berry

If you have these and want to trade for something I have, pls shoot me an email :-)

Mr. H. said...

Thank you, you answered all of my questions and then some. I think I will try growing these next year. We did try to order some from Baker creek once but they were out of seeds and then I kind of forgot about them. They really do look like a wonderful berry.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

I will have lots for sale in our farm store this fall :-)

See the new posting re the farm store on the left column of the blog.

Michelle's Green Thumb said...

Hi Sheryl
The salal are just starting to come along here on the West Coast. I'll be picking pretty heavily over the next couple of weeks, but feel better now that the local grumpy bear has found 'greener pastures'.

The logan berries have another 2 weeks max. Do they really grow well from seed? I've just done cuttings... Anyway - I'll tie a ribbon around my finger & save you up some.

Fully ripe fruit, popped into a zip-lock bag?

My new fruit bush purchase this year are goji berries. Haven't a clue as to height, habitat or expectant first harvest, but love the dried fruit & can't wait to experiment with the fresh!

The Japanese Redneck said...

No, these are new to me. We have a ton of blueberries and only pick a small portion each year.

Since, I'm suppose to cut sugar it's not fun picking them if I can't eat them in jelly or desserts.

Janey said...

The turnovers look wonderful! But I'll bet that purple color stains, huh? Looks like the taste would be worth it though. =) I'd love to try growing some, if I get a garden going well next year.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

The reason I have asked for the ripe berries as opposed to dry seed is that I have had trouble getting dried berry seeds to germinate, sometimes, and it can take a really long time if it isn't fresh. The ground cherries and chichiquelites and goji berries grow easily from dried seed. I have dried seed for choke cherries, mulberries, and a few others that I have not been able to germinate and Haskap honeyberries take months if dried.

I don't eat much sugar either, Ramona. I don't eat pie or jam, very often but my guys do and the jellies and jams make great Christmas gifts! Try making yourself some turnovers with a sugar substitute. Sometimes I bake for myself without using sugar or wheat.

Janey, it probably does stain, like blueberries do. I wear an apron if I am cooking in clothes I care about, which is not often. I don't have small children to worry about either ;-)

Nor do I have carpet. The only think likely to be turned purple is Buck, who is often begging too close :-)

DayPhoto said...

I wish they grew here, but alas we have none.


Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

I am sure you can grow them there. If I can grow them here, you can grow them there. I start them early indoors but I don't think its necessary.

Ottawa Gardener said...

Those look very yummy. We grow 'sunberry' which is similar and good raw as well. My kids have learned the exact degree of ripeness so I rarely get enough to eat myself or cook. Do yours volunteer? Mine do. I have a friend who dislikes any small solonum berries and snarls that you can't get rid of them. I find they usually appear only in disturbed ground.

Katie Martin-Pflugh said...

I was looking for a recipe for Garden Huckleberry Wine when I came upon this blog. I have grown the Garden Huckleberry for several years now. One of the things I have found out is to not pick them until after the first good frost. Or if you are in a big hurry, you can pick them and freeze them before using in any recipe. Also,the advise of using 1/2 more sugar than with Blueberries is good advice for pies, cobblers but not for jams or jellies. Do the jams and jellies after freeze. We made our first wine from them before we knew to freeze the berries, it was terrible! The second batch we made from the frozen berries and what a difference it made. Also you need to use a can of frozen orange juice in the wine recipe. I have always had better luck starting the seeds indoors early and transplanting.

Katie Martin-Pflugh said...

I have planted Garden Huckleberry for several seasons.Through experience I have learned to start indoors early and transplant.One of the most important things to remember is to not pick until after hard frost,or put into the freezer to freeze before using. This process with finish the ripening process and make the fruit sweeter. In making wine it is an absolutely needed process. In recipes it suggests to use 1 1/2 times the amount of sugar used in blueberry recipes.If you freeze first, do taste tests as you add the sugar. The first wine we made was from fruit picked too early and not frozen, it was horrible! Second batch was from frozen berries and also added 1 can of frozen orange juice pulp to it, Wonderful.

Providence Acres Farm said...

Good to know and makes sense. I also freeze everything before I make wine with it. Freezing helps to break down the cell walls and release the juice.

Thanks for the info!

I has been my experience that after you grow them for one year, you don't need to replant!

Yarrow said...

Don't you find the sunberries (chichiquelites) invasive? we planted them once, maybe 8 years ago, let them go to seed, and have never been able to get rid of them since then, and they come up *everywhere*, crowding out other plants. While we find them edible and sometimes flavorful, harvesting is such a project that it barely seems worthwhile. We've come to regret having planted them in the first place.