Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for Thimbleberry: Yummy Fruits A-Z

Thimbleberries are native to western and northern North America, and the U.S. Great Lakes region. At first glance, they look like raspberries, but without getting too complicated, there IS a difference between the two. Both are in the same genus (rubus), but of a different species entirely. 
Thimbleberries grow on bushes without prickly thorns, while raspberries often grow on
canes with thorns. Thimbleberries are flatter and softer than raspberries, with more seeds. They do not store well either, which is why they have never been commercialized. 

The two, however, are quite similar in taste, and like the raspberry, the thimbleberry is NOT a true berry. Both are "aggregate fruits," which defines a fruit formed around a central core (note the hollow cavity when these berries are picked). They are more like peaches or apricots in that regard. The name "thimble" refers to the berry's resemblance to a "sewing thimble." 

As a young girl, I picked thimbleberries in the wild with my mother and aunt. I liked putting the berries on my fingers (like thimbles) and eating them one by one. These dear ladies also liked to mess with my hair (ha-ha....I had more than my share of frizzy perms back then). But I learned a lot from them, and picking berries at the base of beautiful Mount Rainier was one of many lessons. After an afternoon of picking we would go home and convert the berries into jams and yummy desserts. 

Thimbleberries are high in nutrition, something native tribes throughout Canada and the U.S. understood well in the past. The entire plant is edible, the berry, roots, stalks, leaves and flowers! Leaves were used to make a herbal tea or soups for treating diarrhea, vomiting and stomach illnesses, also for poultices in tending wounds or burns. Roots were used similarly, and stalks were a nutritious vegetable. Like the berries, they are especially high in Vitamin C. 

Berries in general are a healthy food source, and are a smart and delicious way to strengthen the body against cancer, heart disease, and arthritis. Some think that eating berries may even slow the aging process. All are pretty good reasons to eat more!

Thimbleberry Recipes

"Thimbleberry Cheesecake"

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
2-1/2 cups cottage cheese
1/2 cream
2 eggs
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup thimbleberries (or raspberries)
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch (dissolved in 1/4 cup water)
Preheat oven 325 degrees F. 
Crust: Melt butter and mix with graham cracker crumbs, sugar (2 tbs), and cinnamon. Press into bottom and sides of spring form pan (or large deep dish pie pan). Set aside.
Cheesecake Filling: In food processor, blend cottage cheese, cream, eggs, flour, lemon juice, vanilla, sugar (2/3 c), and salt. Mix until smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 60 minutes (filling is done if firm). Cool cheesecake completely.
GlazeIn medium saucepan add half of thimbleberries. Stir in cornstarch (dissolved), lemon juice, and sugar. Bring mixture to boil and continue stirring until liquid is clear and thick. Set glaze aside to cool (warm, but not hot). Arrange thimbleberries on top of cheesecake and slowly pour over glaze. 

Thimbleberry Jokes 

Thimbleberry Books

--Thimbleberries Big Book of Quilt Blocks by Lynette Jensen (2005)

--Thimbleberries Scrap Quilts 
by Lynette Jensen and Jeri Simon (2013)

 --Thimbleberry Stories (2006)
by Cynthia Rylant and Maggie Kneen 



  1. I don't think I've ever heard of these. The cheesecake recipe sounds so good!

  2. I learn so much over here from you, Sharon. I wonder how many times I have had thimbleberries thinking I was eating raspberries. Thanks for the great fruit education. Maria, Delight Directed Living

    1. Thanks for commenting, Maria. We're almost through another A-Z :)

  3. I am a berry fiend, but I have yet to try these. I must correct this. :)

    1. Neat, David. It's the right season, too. There should be plenty before long!

  4. After reading this, I'm salivating for berries. Those books look darned tempting, too.

    1. Isn't it wonderful we have access to such a nutritious food? I'm not a quilter, but have always been interested.

  5. Another fruit I've never heard of. I've enjoyed your A-Z this month.

    1. It's been a very busy a-z this year! Thanks for commenting, Tracy.

  6. I wonder if I came across them and I probably have. I will try this recipe and this time I printed it off but 22 pages were printed-hahahahaaaa-didn't know how to stop that:)

    1. Oh, dear....way too much paper. Hope it didn't make you too grumpy. I hate it when I waste paper. Enjoy that recipe!

  7. And here's another fruit I've never heard of. I'm learning so much from you this month.

    Liz A. from Laws of Gravity

    1. Oh...come back tomorrow. I'm getting into some really different fruit again.

  8. I don't live where there are thimbleberries, so I will have to sub in raspberries instead because I definitely HAVE to try that cheesecake. :)

    1. I don't think I do either, but the cheesecake is a keeper. Thanks for stopping by, TaMara!

  9. MaryAnn has a thimbleberry bush in her yard. The fruit isn't nearly as pleasant tasting as raspberries, nor are they as pretty.

    1. aunt and mom sure made some tasty desserts and jams with this fruit. I think the key to enjoying thimbleberries is to find it in the wild. I've never seen a home garden version.


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You could call me an eternal optimist, but I'm really just a dreamer. l believe in dream fulfillment, because 'sometimes' dreams come true. This is a blog about my journey as a writer and things that inspire and motivate me.