Bright orange buckthorn

Bright orange buckthorn

Berries come in many varieties; elderberries, cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, red currants and sea buck thorn, to name but a few. When I was  a kid our favorite summer job would be to pick strawberries, raspberries and red currants at one of the local fruit farms close to our home. It paid virtually nothing but at the time it seemed a worthwhile investment. I can still remember the taste of those gorgeous gorgeous bright red strawberries where you would just occasionally pop one straight in your mouth. A burst of sweet juicy flavor would explode in your mouth…. Whatever happened to those really good strawberries??

Urban knitting in action

Urban knitting in action

Anyway; when I saw some tweets from Frytsjam passing by on twitter a couple of weeks ago I was intrigued and checked out their website. I found out that they produce a couple of not so common berry types in the north of Holland and I contacted Hetty if it would be OK for me to pop by and take some photos. She was immediately friendly and inviting, so I called her husband Oane and we made the appointment.

The only downside was the weather as it was dark, grey and on the brink of raining but it stayed dry. Obviously middle of september is not necessarily the best time to visit a berry farm but I was curious and just wanted to have a look so I went! One of the first things I noticed when Oane Kloosterman, who started his company in 1997, was taking me around the premises of  Frytsjam is some, well, weird looking items on some of the shrubs. When I ask Oane what it is he explains to me that this is Urban Knitting… Urban… what?? Apparently there is an entire movement of people who take great fun in knitting things for trees, poles, anything really… There were a couple of shrubs that had some form of knitwear on them, there were trees that had pompoms of wool instead of apples and knitwear in the shape of a bird as you see here! Very funny and – to be quite honest – rather weird too.. But hey, there might be people who think cooking is weird or blogging so who am I to judge?

Oane is a very friendly man with a great passion for this berries and he had a lot of interesting things to tell that I knew nothing about. For instance; did you know that buckthorn is not picked but rather the branches with the berries are cut of the shrubs, thrown in their entirety in the freezer. Once frozen solid they are taken out and if you then shake the branches, the berries fall out and you have your sea buckthorn. Much easier then going in to those spiky thorns! It’s also one of the species where you cannot pick the entire bush (also because you physically remove part of the branches in contrast to just picking the fruits) so there was still lots of gorgeous bright orange berries on the shrubs we walked through.

Buckthorn shrubs

Buckthorn shrubs still filled with fruits

Buckthorn is best consumed after the first frost has softened the fruits, so what happens to all those fruits left on the shrubs? After the first frost the pheasants come out of hiding and eat all the berries! I just had to laugh when I heard that. Can you imagine a horde of pheasants decending on those poor berries? After they’ve eaten all those berries the flesh of the pheasants becomes inedible too! So any hunter that lives in an area where there is buckthorn knows not to shoot a pheasant after the first frost for at least a month. I wonder if the pheasants know that they get a month of peace after eating those berries!

Blueberries

Various shades of blueberry

Frytsjam is one of the biggest organic fruit producers in the Northern part of the Netherlands and they not only produce the berries but they turn them into beautiful products too. There are jams, syrups, honey, wine, juice and not to forget dried berries and even tea!

Various syrups

Syrups

What I love about the labels of the bottles they sell in there little store is that most of it is in Fries. Now you may not know this but Holland has more then one language and Fries is one of them! I can’t understand it at all. In fact I had a hard time understanding that Flearbeien sjerp was elderberry syrup (until I noticed that it is mentioned in Dutch below it..lol) I would have thought it meant something to do with strawberries (which are called aardbeien in Dutch). Lots of confusion but Oane was kind enough to talk to me in Dutch.. 🙂

You can go there in the summer and pick your own berries from may till october. There is a garden with interesting sculptures and other works of art (although maybe not my taste, but you know I’m a so called cultural barbarian right?)

I am definitely gonna go back because I realize I bought lots but forgot to get myself a bottle of elderberry syrup… Damn.. I would urge you to go and have a look for yourself and get some of those lovely products while you’re at it!

Tea varieties

Different kinds of tea

Frytsjam

De Wedze 22a
9286 EV Twijzel
E-mail: info@frytsjam.nl
Telefoon: + 0031 (0) 511 543440