In summer in Quebec, we feast on blueberries, strawberries, raspberries… but also all kinds of “new” berries, many of which were unknown until recently. This is the case of haskap, which is gaining ground, both literally and figuratively. More and more producers are growing it in the province and are even offering customers the opportunity to pick it themselves from their fields.

“An explosion of fruit in the mouth. This is how producer Denis Carrier ends up describing haskap, a small berry he grows on his land in Saint-Anselme, in the Bellechasse region.

To the seemingly innocuous question “what does haskap taste like?” the answer did not turn out to be as simple as one might think. “It really has a lot of flavor,” sums up Mr. Carrier, who operates Camerises St-Philippe with his wife Nancy Jacques.

That’s not all: When frozen, the little berry reacts more like a…grape, Carrier continues. “You can eat it straight frozen because it retains a certain tenderness, a bit like a grape. Since the sugar level is very high, it doesn’t freeze edge to edge like a blueberry, for example, which will be hard as a rock once frozen. »

Mr. Carrier has been growing haskap for about 10 years. It must be said that the cultivation of the small blue fruit is quite recent in Quebec. “When we started it, no one knew what haskap was,” says the producer. The first plans were planted in 2007, in Lac-Saint-Jean. But it still took a few years for the web to start to grow, so it was more around 2012, 2013 that he started to get a little worse. For his part, he received his first hasp in 2014.

Pick-your-own activities are hugely popular with many growers today, and Denis Carrier’s business is no exception. On a good day, he can receive between 300 and 400 people who come to pick haskap at his home, he estimates. Today, the daily number of pickers can easily exceed the total number of visitors for the entire first season of activity, he says, which shows how much traffic has skyrocketed.

If U-pick is the easiest and most direct way to obtain haskap, the season – which lasts about four weeks – is unfortunately already drawing to a close. The further east you go from Montreal, the later the picking starts because of the cooler temperatures. It is, however, complete in several places, but some stretch it a little longer (see box). Otherwise, don’t panic!

For the lucky ones who can pick haskap in the fields, you can eat it directly, in the palm of your hand, especially since it has no stone. We prefer to eat it fresh, since it will keep only a few days on the counter, points out Mr. Carrier. For ice cream fans, some dairies even make soft ice cream twists when it’s in season.

Fortunately, it freezes very well and cooks just as easily. At Camerises St-Philippe, we produce jams, syrup, onion confit, pies, jelly… They are also the only ones in Quebec to transform the small berry into alcohol: they produce two kinds of gin , a dry wine and a semi-dry wine, as well as a haskap liqueur.

If U-pick is over for several farms, it is still possible in a few places. We found three where you can go at least until the first weekend of August.

Berries L’Islet (near Saint-Jean-Port-Joli)

Cultures Soleil Rouge (Métabetchouan–Lac-à-la-Croix, on the shores of Lac Saint-Jean)

Domaine Boréal (Saint-Fulgence, in Saguenay)

Haskap goes well with many ingredients, and can make a great counterbalance to the salty taste. Here is the recipe for cheesecake and haskap coulis from food blogger Émilie Gaillet. Note that you can also use this versatile coulis in jam on toast, or pour it over pancakes.

4 cups frozen haskap 1/2 cup water 1/4 cup sugar 2 tbsp. cornstarch

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs2 tbsp. 1/4 cup butter, melted

900 g cream cheese, tempered 1 1/8 cup sugar 2 tbsp. cornstarch 4 large eggs 1 egg yolk 1/2 cup heavy cream or sour cream 2 tbsp. vanilla extract