Simone's Kitchen

In berry heaven – Frytsjam

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!


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


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 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


De Wedze 22a
9286 EV Twijzel
Telefoon: + 0031 (0) 511 543440

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  1. What a cool place Simone.
    I have never heard of Buckthorn berries. What do they taste like?
    With that amazing orange colour I can imagine doing something fun with them!
    Sounds like you had a great day and I LOVE THE KNITTED BIRDS.
    My Mum knits, and now I want her to knit me some of those for the trees
    around back of our house where the kids climb ! They would love them too!

    • I don’t know what they taste like yet.. 🙂 I believe it’s one of those berries that you can’t eat straight from the bush but I did buy the jam, sauce and dried versions so I will let you know once I’ve tried it!
      O haha… It’s really a big thing that whole knitting in the wild idea… Whoever comes up with that stuff?

  2. Very nice pics and the yellow berries ..never saw those before;)

  3. Wonderful produces! I love buckthorn jam.



  4. Wow! I haven’t heard of buckthornbefore! I wonder if we can get them in Australia?

  5. Thanks for this info Simone. I will definitely make a plan to go there next summer!
    I’m intrigued by all these berries, especially the Bukthorn.

  6. Love this beautiful and informative post 🙂 Hope I can be at this place one day.

  7. Wow, interesting info about buckthorn berries and pheasants! I didn’t know of the language Fries either. I learned so much here today! Sounds like a great little shop.

  8. This looks like a great place! I’ve never been berry picking… Here, it’s usually strawberries and blueberries that are available.

  9. This is such an interesting post, and sounds like smart pheasants to me! 🙂 I haven’t had buckthorn before, but many other kinds of berries. I know I would probably like it. I love visiting places like that and local organic has to be the best. I like the urban knitting…how funny, at least they don’t get any complaint about their knitting! 🙂

    • Haha… yes definitely very smart pheasants for sure! Buckthorn is also not very common here but I love finding out about these different ingredients.. Not so sure about the urban knitting myself.. It just sounds… well.. odd.. 🙂

  10. We love fruchtetee here especially my kids…I’ve never known that trivia about pheasants before, thanks for sharing! Great photography btw…I enjoyed it here. 😉

  11. I have never seen nor eaten buckthorn before either. Berries don’t really grow in the country, apart from good ol’ strawberries. Can they be used for baking?

    Thank you so much for your visit. Your food shots are simply stunning!

  12. I could spend hours and hours in that shop, no doubt about it. I really do like berries, but I don’t think I’ve tried them all just yet, I should set out a list to try all the berries nature provides.

  13. What an awesome place Simone! Not having a lot of berries over here I always look longingly at the places that have an abundance…and this place looks charming! I need to revisit the Netherlands again one day…I stayed for about 3 months years again and absolutely loved it 🙂

  14. Those teas look lovely- J can help you with translations next time.
    I wanted to say a mighty big congrats on the new banner…I would say looks just like you, but she doesn’t, of course. hehe Represents all the elements of you. Well done!

  15. Love the Urban Knitting! Must be really cool people who knit for trees! This whole farm looks so wonderful and I could see spending a day there. I’d love to taste their products. Did you purchase anything? What did you make?

    • I did purchase quite a few products Jamie, but since they’re all preserved I have some time to think what I will be making with them. I have no idea… but I will be making something shortly so stay tuned!

  16. Never tried Buckthorn berries but they sure sound interesting! Stunning clicks! I like new banner too! 🙂

  17. LOVED this post. For a second I thought the first pic. was of the unripe (but edible) dates. They look the same! Did not know about “Fries”. and I am loving the Urban Knitting thing and wondering how cute some wld look in our trees:) wish i cld knit.

  18. I never heard of this type of berries before…Thanks for the post, and the bits and pieces of info.

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