DIY Wildfoods: Manzanita Sugar


If you are a foodie who doesn’t get much in the way of sugary sweet treats then manzanita sugar might be the perfect addition to that little something you crave.

Autumn is a beautiful time of year in the foothills of Northern California. The leaves of the plentiful trees shift into amazing hues of yellow, gold, orange, crimson, copper, green and brown. Even more exciting to my senses is the bounty of manzanita berries which are readily available on my daily hikes through the forest. Every year I collect these tiny red clusters in my pockets and add them handful by handful at a time to a jar in my tea cupboard for safekeeping.

tea strainer and mortarprocessing manzanita berries

Manzanita is related to Uva Ursi which is known for its restorative properties to the bladder. The beautiful reddish bark is a main ingredient in astringent washes for skin irritations like poison oak.  Even though the leaves are only safe in short doses, the berries can be eaten for their anti oxidant properties as often as desired.  When I’m ready to brew some tea or make a tray of raw cacao treats I put about a dozen or more berries onto a mesh basket and grind them with my pestle. This filters out the seeds. The powder is a nice neutral color adds a mellow sweet flavor to my afternoon snacks.

What healthy sugar alternatives have you discovered in your neighborhood?


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