Marionberry: The Fruit You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
You might think you know your fruits and berries but have you ever heard of a marionberry? This berry is most famous in the state of Oregon - where around 14,000 tonnes of the fruit are grown each year.
The marionberry is a blackberry, developed by crossing a Chehalem blackberry with an Olalie blackberry. Both the Chehalem and Olalie are in themselves hybrids - tracing their roots back to raspberries, blackberries and dewberries. Named after Marion County, where it was first grown, this large berry was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the 1940’s before being released in 1956.
Why Have Most People Never Tasted or Seen Marionberries?
It’s a local thing. Most marionberries are grown and consumed within the state of Oregon where they are made it into pies, jams, ice cream and even beers and spirits. The fruit is considered too soft to ship - so the majority of them are consumed by locals who cherish them for their unique flavour.
What’s the Flavour of a Marionberry Like?
Considered to be the ‘Cabernet of blackberries’, the marionberry is both tart, earthy and sweet - with hints of raspberry, it’s distant ancestor. It’s also very juicy - more so than the uncultivated blackberry that grows so well along the Pacific northwest.
Why Are They So Popular in Oregon?
The main reason locals go crazy over marionberries is that it’s a locally developed ingredient in a state that is not known for its local cuisine. Oregon doesn’t have a rich culinary tradition like that of the southern states, but it does take pride in it’s ingredients - and the marionberry is their local hero. It was even proposed to make it the official symbol of the state.
How Can You Get Marionberries?
You may find frozen marionberries in some specialist stores, and marionberry products like jam, beer or even vodka in other northwest Pacific states. Other than that, you’ll have to rely on internet shopping to find marionberry jam, syrup and pie fillings.
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