Have a little spot on your property not being used? Why not plant some berry shrubs?

After a recent delivery of Emu Creek Farm-raised honey berries or haskap, I thought to myself, everyone should be growing these berries on their property for a winter stash.

The thing that makes these berries so interesting is their hardiness. Originating from Siberia, China and Japan, they can withstand temperatures of minus 47 Celsius, and flower in temperatures as low as 7 Celsius, making them one of the earliest to produce berries. In the Yukon this is usually around mid- to late- June, even before the strawberries!

If you thought all that was good, you will not believe this either. Unlike other bushes and trees that can take up to seven years to start producing fruit, the haskap tree can produce fruit the year after being planted.

By year three you can expect a kilogram of fruit per shrub, and by year six up to four kilograms of fruit per plant. That’s amazing!

If you don’t have or can’t get your hands on any haskap, don’t worry. You can use any wild berry you would like for this recipe.

With Food Day Canada just around the corner, and many people asking for recipes with local ingredients, I was grazing on a grilled blueberry muffin, when it hit me: haskap and apple muffins, rubbed with butter, grilled and drizzled with good ole Uncle Berwyn’s birch syrup. Good lord, it is divine.

On top of that, if you can manage to get your hands on a sapling, you could be eating countless amounts of these little gems every year, for years to come.

Haskap and Apple Muffins with Birch Syrup (makes about 12)

INGREDIENTS

2 cups (300g) unbleached white flour

2tbsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1¼ cup fresh or frozen honey berries

2 medium apples (300g) coarsely grated

1/4 cup (50g) brown sugar

100ml birch syrup plus more for drizzling over muffin

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil

1/3 cup (80ml) buttermilk

Butter for grilling

Streusel topping

1/3 cup (50g) unbleached white flour

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp mixed spice (pumpkin pie spice) or make your own mix

2 tbsp (30g) butter

METHOD

Streusel Topping

Sift flour, sugar and spice into a bowl, rub in butter. Roll mixture into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap, freeze until firm enough to grate.

Muffin

Preheat your oven to 350F

Grease your muffin pans with butter, spray, or oil.

Sift flour into large bowl, stir in remaining ingredients.

Spoon mixture into muffin pans

Coarsely grate streusel topping over muffins

Bake for approx 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the middle.

Pop out of pans and let sit for 15-20 minutes.

To serve, warm up a cast iron pan or frying pan, add small knob of butter. Slice the muffin in half and grill in pan till golden brown. Place on plate and drizzle with more fresh birch syrup.

Tip: if you toss your berries in a little flour before adding to the mix, they will stay suspended and not fall to the bottom of the pan.

Jeffery Mickelson, a professional chef, wild food fanatic and “offal” good guy, shares his passion for cooking with What’s Up Yukon