Berry season in Newfoundland is a beautiful thing. Aside from the fact that the boggy land and salt-filled air are far from conducive to traditional agriculture, the island is ripe for the picking with a mind-boggling variety of berries. Blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are joined by the likes of partridgeberries, serviceberries, and bakeapples.
The bakeapple, also known as the cloudberry, is a plump, golden-orange berry that looks like it is seconds away from bursting at the seams. Inside are some seriously hard seeds. But biting into one of these is a worthwhile risk for a taste of the delicate, honey-sweet flesh of this berry.
Indeed, bakeapples make it rather difficult to enjoy them. Aside from the aforementioned seeds, each plant bears only a single berry, and the plants grow in moist tundra and peat bog environments. Somehow, every Newfoundlander still manages to have their “spot” for a decent forage, and the whole family grabs their gumboots and buckets to head out for a pick around mid-August. Without a moment wasted, pantries are filled with the newest bottling of jams, jellies, and syrups. Only a few lucky producers are able to gather enough berries to make a uniquely Canadian liqueur.
So how did the bakeapple get its name? The common lore holds that a French explorer arrived to a patch of odd-looking berries and asked what they were called. The English language took the French for “berry” (baie) and “to call” (appeler), bastardized it, and the bakeapple was born.