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Scientific Information

Very ripe cloudberry a little past its prime but still very tasty.
The cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus) is regionally known as a salmonberry although the two are very different species.

The ripe fruits are golden-yellow, soft and juicy, and are rich in vitamin C. When eaten fresh, cloudberries have a distinctive tart taste. When over-ripe, they have a creamy texture and flavor. Its high benzoic acid content acts as a natural preservative.

In Alaska, the berries are mixed with seal oil, reindeer or caribou fat (which is diced up and made fluffy with the seal oil) and sugar to make "Eskimo Ice Cream" or Agutuq. The recipes vary by region. Along the Yukon and Kuskokwim river areas, white fish(pike,whitefish) along with Crisco and sugar is used.

Community Information




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Salmonberries (as they are called locally) are probably the second-most important traditional subsistence resource in Shishmaref; second only to the bearded seal and the food items made from it. Salmonberries are harvested late July to early August along the Serpentine River and along the coastline.

The people here make several styles of agutuq (Eskimo Ice Cream) as well as having the berries with sugar and/or mixed with blackberries (aka crowberries), and blueberries. People will also mix salmonberries with burbot (locally called lingcod) meat to make iń°alulik. Sometimes salmon or whitefish meat may be substituted. Locally though it has always been burbot that was the primary meat used.

In years where families are able to pick an abundant amount of berries, they will often trade for other traditional native foods like muktuk (Bowhead Whale blubber and skin often from St. Lawrence Island), dried and/or smoked salmon, etc. Each winter at the Thanksgiving and Christmas traditional community feasts, people will bring berries and agutuq to share with as many people as possible. People also prepare agutuq for their children's birthday parties. The berries are also sometimes sold in quart, gallon, and 5-gallon quantities.

The abundance of berries is dependent on temperature, precipitation, and wind. If it is too cold, windy, and/or rainy the flowers may become damaged and will not ripen into a berry.

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