Assorted wild berries. Jamie Carlson

My entire life I have searched for ways to spend time outside. Hunting, fishing, skiing, hiking—it doesn’t matter. I am happiest when I am outdoors. One of the things I hope to do as a father is pass that same enjoyment on to my kids. That is sometimes hard to do when they are little, but as my kids have become more mobile and independent, we have spent more time in the woods together. One of our favorite activities is foraging. My son is 4 years old and can be so loud when out in the woods I am pretty sure he scares the mushrooms away.

As the summer months approach and it gets warmer the wild berries start to come out. Black cap raspberries are one of our prime targets, but it’s hard to collect enough to do much with them—the kids eat them as fast as they pick them. On a recent trip, I came across a mulberry tree. It was small, but still had some fruit on it. I also noticed that there were gooseberries and currants in the area. Not everything was ripe so I waited a few days then headed back to the park and started picking.

There weren’t as many mulberries as I had hoped for, but there were plenty of gooseberries and currants to be plucked. I also came across a chokecherry shrub and a few black cap raspberries. I didn’t have enough of anyone kind of berry to do anything, with but when I combined all the berries I had about two pounds. I had already made raspberry jam, and I wanted to do something different with all these. One of my kid’s favorite snacks are fruit chewies. I started looking for recipes for something like a fruit chewy and found something called Pate De Fruit that uses a pulp of just about any kind of fruit.

heating fruit pulp

wild berries cooking

Check the temperature of the fruit mixture with a candy thermometer.

I took all the berries that I had gathered and heated them on the stove until they were all soft, then fed them through a food mill to remove the skins and seeds. I ended up with a little more than a pound of pulp. To make these chewies yourself, you will need a scale that can measure in grams and a candy thermometer. Some of the ingredients need to be measured precisely to the gram. You will also need to boil the fruit and sugar until the mixture hits 223 degrees Fahrenheit.

The end result is one of the most intensely wonderful chewy candies I’ve sampled to date. You could do this with all one kind of berry or a mixture of berries. Whatever you do though, don’t leave them out, or your kids will eat them all.

fruit leather

wild fruit gummies

Wild berry fruit squares

This recipe made 40 1-inch by 1-inch squares

1 pound of fruit puree
550 grams of sugar
75 grams of corn syrup
7 grams of lemon juice
12 grams of powdered fruit pectin
1 cup of sugar for coating the candies

Mix the pectin with a couple spoonfuls of the sugar, and set aside. In a large sauce pan heat the puree to 120 degrees on the stove, then add the sugar and pectin mixture. Cook for 1 minute. Add the remaining sugar and corn syrup. Continue cooking over medium heat until the mixture reaches 223 degrees. This will take time, but it’s worth it. While the fruit is boiling, line an 8×8 baking dish with Saran wrap and smooth out any wrinkles. Once the fruit reaches 223 degrees, add the lemon juice and cook for one minute longer. Then pour the mixture into the saran wrap lined dish. Let sit out at room temperature until it cools completely. Sprinkle some of the sugar over the top to coat the top of the chewies. Then flip it over onto a cutting board and peel off the saran wrap. Sprinkle that side with sugar and then cut into 1 inch squares. Toss the squares in sugar to coat all sides, and enjoy.