Let’s start with bakeapples. These berries basically look like little yellow-orange raspberries. Bakeapples grow especially well in moist environments like bogs and do really well in central and northern Newfoundland. Taste wise, they’re a little difficult to describe. But Ray Guy (2002: 98) puts it rather well: “It is three parts sour, one part sweet; a touch of apricot; a soupgon of lemon.” However, even he gives up on this description as you “might as well try to guess the recipe for a French perfume from one sniff.”
Bakeapple is the common Newfoundland name for the berry though you may have heard them referred to as cloudberries, perhaps even mülteplant or salmonberry and if you’re a bit geeky (and proud of it) you might recognise them by their Latin name, Rubus chamaemorus. The origin of the word bakeapple isn’t clear. There’s a possibility that the name originated from a question first nations individuals were asked by the French settlers: “baie qu’appelle?” Or in English “what is the berry called?” Another explanation is that the name is just a variation on “baked-apple” as it slightly resembles in a slight a baked apple in certain respects like taste and colour.
While they’re great to eat just as they are, I’ve been eyeing up some of Bakeapple Vinegar a wee while now, so when the Heritage Shop’s mega sale came about, I really had to try some of Dark Tickle’s vinegar. They have three flavours: blueberry, partridgeberry (or lingonberry) and bakeapple. Basically, the three most well-known berries in Newfoundland, dominating the island’s tourist industry. I’ve tried each of Dark Tickle’s jams made from these berries and have enjoyed them all, especially the partridgeberry jam. I love the tartness of the partridgeberry, it cuts through the sweetness of the jam really nicely. Now for the bakeapple jam, it a) could probably be described as similar to apricot jam with a few more seeds in it and b) is damn good. After a good start on Dark Tickle’s jams, it seemed like a great idea to try some of their other products!
I’ve had customers ask how to use the vinegar and my basic go to is to suggest they use it as a salad dressing. I figured I had better try it as such so I actually know what I’m recommending to people. I also thought that as I had just baked a loaf of bread it might also be fantastic to try it as a dip – kind of like balsamic vinegar and oil (my mouth is already watering).
Opening the vinegar bottle was a little of a challenge after discovering that there is no corkscrew in our house (you know when something is so ubiquitous amongst household items that you just think you’ll open a drawer and find the item there without having ever purchased one – I had one of these moments). Doing the usual and asking google to solve my problems, I found a video showing me how to use scissors to get the cork out. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as skilled as the girl in the video and instead of removing the cork, I just pushed it into the bottle 😟
At any rate, the bottle was open and we could try some of the vinegar. For my first mouthful, I decided on trying it as a dip first along with some olive oil. Being perhaps a little gung-ho, I went for the more-is-better approach. Wham! Boy, did that vinegar hit me or what? The back of my mouth was blasted and it had my eyes watering!
Okay, after a few moments and a slight adjustment to the amount of the bakeapple vinegar, i.e. a heck of a lot less, It was actually not too bad. It’s definitely not balsamic vinegar though. I was expecting some sweetness, but it was very much vinegar central in that bottle with some extremely light undertones of bakeapple. Perhaps, it is even possible I was imagining those undertones, as J—– couldn’t taste the bakeapple at all.
I also tried the vinegar with an iceberg lettuce salad, and I reckon the very subtle flavour of bakeapple did come through. Well, maybe?? The Dark Tickle website suggests that it could be used on cooked vegetables and put into sauces, glazes or salsas. Unfortunately, I think in these instances you could literally put any vinegar on the salad and it would taste the same as the bakeapple vinegar. Any bakeapple flavour, if it’s there at all, would be lost. So some not so great results on the bakeapple vinegar. Oh well, I have a whole bottle of it now – I’m sure I’ll put it to use somehow.
Bakeapple [Online]. Available at http://www.darktickle.com/content/7-bakeapple. [Accessed 24 October 2015].
Bakeapple Vinegar [Online]. Available at http://www.darktickle.com/vinegars/131-bakeapple-vinegar-180ml-61-fl-oz.html. [Accessed 24 October 2015].
Maunder, J. E. 1979. Bakeapple. The Osprey. 3: 41-42
Ray, G. 2002. Bakeapple delight. Canadian Geographic. 122: 98.