BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Just behind Johns Hopkins University by San Martin Drive, you’ll find Deb Howard, from the Baltimore Orchard Project, foraging for food.

“I’m picking serviceberries, which are actually native to Maryland and they’re throughout Baltimore,” Howard said in an interview with WJZ.

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Serviceberries, as described by Howard, taste like “a combination of blueberries, raspberries and almonds.” And they’re nutritious too – a great source of iron, Howard added.

She’s picking as many serviceberries as she can as part of the Orchard Project’s Mulberry Madness Month, when the group spreads the word about these nutritious foods that can be found in Baltimore.

“So this fruit doesn’t go to waste,” said Howard, “and it’s free!”

And thanks to the cicadas, there are even more berries to pick because the birds are eating the cicadas instead of the berries.

“Cicadas have made the birds satisfied, they’ve been eating that easy protein and so there’s been so many berries! I have never seen this many berries on a tree left at the end of the season, never,” said Howard.

Howard takes her harvest over to Gertrude’s Chesapeake Kitchen where Chef and Owner John Shields gladly accepts the berries. Shields and his kitchen rolls the sweet red berries into their recipes.

“This is stuff that grows right here, it’s part of their everyday life and now it’s on their plate,” said an excited Shields.

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His kitchen whipped up an omelette with brie and serviceberries, serving it to his breakfast crowd.

“It’s just really, really exciting that we have this source of food that we’ve ignored for so long that is so delicious,” Shields added.

He said serviceberries are especially wonderful, as a chef, because you can add them to almost any recipe like pancakes or bread. He shares a muffin recipe below:

Chef John Shields Serviceberry-Lemon-Hazelnut Muffins

**Makes a dozen muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup melted butter, plus 1 tablespoon for greasing muffin tin
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk or plant-based milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 cup cup Serviceberries
  • ½ cup toasted chopped hazelnuts (see note)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use 1 tablespoon of butter to grease the cups of a 12-muffin tin.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Whisk together the melted butter, egg, and milk until blended.
  4. Stir the flour mixture into the butter-egg mixture just until mixtures are incorporated and batter is thoroughly moist. Do not over mix; the batter will be thick and lumpy.
  5. Fold in the lemon zest, Serviceberries and hazelnuts.
  6. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling each well about two-thirds full.
  7. Bake until the muffins are uniformly brown, about 25-30 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.
  8. Remove muffins from the oven and let it stand for about 5 minutes. Serve warm, or let cool.

Note: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Chop hazelnuts, spread on a cookie sheet and toast until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Watch carefully so the nuts don’t burn.

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Learn more about the Mulberry Madness Month, by clicking here. 

Annie Rose Ramos