About the Haskap Berry
Lonicera caerulea (haskap, blue honeysuckle, honeysuckle, swamp fly honeysuckle, and honeyberry) is a honeysuckle native species that grows throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere. A boreal plant, it has been cultivated throughout Eastern Europe and Asia since the early 1900's. Different varieties can be found growing in the wild throughout these areas, including North America.
Haskap (Lonicera caerulea) has long been known in Japan as the "berry of long life and good vision", or the "little present at the end of a branch".
The word haskap came from the original word hasukappu, which is the name that an indigenous culture of people inhabiting the island of Hokkaido used for this berry.
In Canada, the University of Saskatchewan started a breeding program where varieties from Japan, Russia, and the Kuril Islands have been used to create hybrids. The U of S has used the term haskap to identify the Canadian varieties from their breeding program. The term has also been adopted by Canadian growers.
Haskap is a deciduous shrub that grows 1.5-2m in height and width. These plants bloom in the early spring, and berries are normally ready to harvest in the early summer season. Birds love to eat these berries, and will gorge themselves until a plant is completely cleaned.
Uniqueness of Haskap Berries
The Haskap berry has been called the new super fruit in North America. Its sustainable differentiation is due to its high antioxidant nutritional content, intense colour, flavour and texture – a little goes a long way!
Haskap berries when ripe, are sweet, good tasting and easy to eat in their whole fresh, frozen or dried forms. Haskap berries have a tangy/sweet unique taste, intense purple/blue exterior with crimson interior and melt-in-your-mouth texture.
The haskap berry is a small oval berry, often likened in shape to an elongated blueberry about 1-inch long. The soft, delicate skin of a haskap berry is dark violet, but with an intense crimson flesh when fully ripe. It has very small, almost imperceptible seeds.
The juice of the berry has a naturally high brix value (measure of sugar content) and colours almost anything it is combined with, to a dark burgundy.
The unique taste of the Haskap berry is a sharp sweetness with a tangy kick; it has been compared to a combination of blueberry and raspberry with a hint of black currant.
Haskap is Super Versatile
Haskap berries are one of nature’s instant snack-foods. They are easy to eat, do not require peeling and the consumer is left with no core, peel or waste.
They taste great and are incredibility versatile: fresh, frozen, dried, freeze-dried, pureed, or juiced. They are easy to add to other foods (as a topping for breakfast cereal, for example) and make excellent eating just on their own.
Haskap berries have incredible potential as they may be included in a variety of consumer products: jams, pastries, preserves, juices, syrups, sauces, tarts, cakes, pies, candies, ice cream, yogurt, and beverages including teas, wines, liqueurs, port, honey meads as well as added to spirits and in cocktails.
Health Benefits of Haskap
Haskap berries are high in vitamins C and A, as well as fiber and potassium. They also contains the minerals: calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, zinc and copper, as indicated on the following nutrition facts panel, and fruit comparison table:
Haskap berries have very high antioxidant content. Antioxidants are compounds, which neutralize free radicals, which come from toxins, food, air pollution, chemicals, medications, and from your body's production of waste. There are many types of antioxidants in nature, three of which are polyphenols, bioflavonoid, and anthocyanins.
ORAC values, otherwise known as antioxidant values, as reported by the USDA Database for the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods, show haskap to have an extremely high antioxidant value. In particular high levels of polyphenols, anthocyanins, and bioflavonoids, specifically:
ORAC 13400 µ moles TE/100gm
Total Phenolics (Polyphenols) 1014 mg/100gm
Total Anthocyanins 949 mg/100gm
Total Bioflavonoids 887 mg/100gm
Lonicera caerulea, commonly known as haskap, is now an approved herbal plant and plant material in the Health Canada, Natural Health Products Ingredients Database
Short Communication: Haskap (Lonicera caerulea): A new berry crop with high antioxidant capacity.1
Authors: H. P. Vasantha Rupasinghe, Li Juan Yu, Khushwant S. Bhullar, Bob Bors.
1 - Short Communication: Haskap (Lonicera caerulea): A new berry crop with high antioxidant capacity, Authors: H. P. Vasantha Rupasinghe, Li Juan Yu, Khushwant S. Bhullar, Bob Bors. Canadian journal of plant science. Revue canadienne de phytotechnie. Vol. 92.0, 2017-02-10 2012, pp. 1311-1317