Power Plants: Haskap

via Bryce Wylde

Biohacks, Remedies

Power Plants

HASKAP (Lonicera caerulea)
Haskap—also known as blue honeysuckle or honeyberry—was known to the ancient Japanese as “the fruit of longevity.” It originates from the island of Hokkaido—Japan’s northernmost island territory—and was introduced to Canada in the 1950s as an ornamental. By the late 1990s, scientists had developed hardy varieties with tasty fruits that are now prized for their health benefits.
Haskap fruit is similar to blueberries in colour, but it is elongated and slightly cylindrical—more like a mini plum. The plant is not a close cousin of blueberries or cranberries: it’s is more closely related to the tomato.
Blueberries are well known for containing polyphenol antioxidants, but Haskap berries have five times the amount, making them an antioxidant superfood.
Polyphenols provide the fruit with natural protection against ultraviolet radiation, fungal attack and other pathogens. In humans, these antioxidants help prevent heart disease, cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases.
The phenolic content in this berry is directly associated with its colour and flavour. The skin of red grapes also contains high concentrations, which helps explain red wine’s colour and its antioxidant properties. But the flesh of most red grapes is actually white. Haskap berries, on the other hand, have flesh that is reddish-purple. That means the berries have high phenol content throughout, and not just in the skin, giving Haskap a higher antioxidant score and superior health benefits.
Difficulty: Easy
Hardiness: Perennial in zone 2 or above
Time to Plant: Early spring
Time to Harvest: Spring to early Summer
Location: Full to part sun
Soil Type: Well-drained
Haskap is the rising star of the berry industry in North America. Not only are the fruits packed with antioxidants, but the plant is extremely well suited to northern climates. It was cultivated in Siberia in the 1950s, and more hardy varieties were developed by the University of Saskatchewan. Not only will it survive Canadian winters, but it will be the first to flower and the first to bear fruit. Haskap is also fast-growing and high-yielding.
Common Varieties: The most popular Haskap varieties are Indigo Gem, Indigo Treat, Tundra, Borealis and Honey Bee. Most varieties are not self-pollinating, so they need to be planted alongside a complementary variety. For example, Honey Bee can pollinate the other types.
Haskap can be planted anytime during the growing season, but early spring is ideal: as soon as the soil is workable. Locate the plants in full sun out of direct wind, and ensure the soil is well-drained. While Haskap will grow in average soils and can tolerate slight acidity, it will thrive in soils rich in organic matter or amended with composted manure. Plant 1 m apart and water deeply and infrequently. Mulch to minimize weed growth and keep the roots cool.
The birds and the bees play a big role in the garden. Many plants that produce fruits, berries and nuts require pollinators. In some cases (such as hollies) the plants are actually male and female. But with haskap you need more than one cultivar in order to produce fruit. You don’t need to plant them in even numbers: 1 pollinator can be effective for up to 8 producing plants.
Haskap will thrive with occasional watering, some weeding, and infrequent fertilizing with compost tea or general garden fertilizer. Haskap are resistant to disease, insects and deer, but your biggest challenge are birds, especially cedar waxwings. Apply netting, install noise makers, and even put up a plastic owl to discourage birds from eating your prized crop.
After harvest, continue watering and weeding, and watch out for powdery mildew. Treat as necessary with a fungicide and ensure good air flow around plants.
Haskap can get quite large: the mature shrub is about 1 m wide and 1 to 2 m tall. While the plant is dormant in late winter or early spring, prune out older and or dead branches. When the shrub becomes very dense, central branches should be removed. Be careful never to prune more than 25% of the entire bush in a season.
Haskap is the first to harvest in spring but don’t be fooled. Haskap will appear deep in colour and plump, but they still may not be ready for harvest for up to 10 days. If there is any green still inside the berry, it’s not fully ripe. Ripe berries will naturally fall when you shake the bush.
Only wash the berries when needed. They can be refrigerated and stored for 5 to 10 days. Haskap can be preserved into jams, jellies and wines, or frozen in clear sealed bags.
Not getting your antioxidants? Get syrupy about Haskap!
The trend today is all about how to eat healthier without abandoning taste. Haskap syrup is not only an antioxidant powerhouse, but it can single-handedly make pancakes healthier and tastier, sweeten a shake, and even give you partial justification for eating vanilla ice cream!
6 cups                               Haskap berries
3 tsp                                   fresh lemon juice
2 cups                               water
6 cups                               sugar
Blend the berries and lemon juice in a blender. Pour the contents into a pot. Bring to boil and stir in sugar one cup at a time. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring regularly. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain through a cheesecloth. Using a funnel, pour into sterilized narrow-neck pouring jars (like an old syrup jar) with a tight-fitting lid.
Got gout? Haskap smoothies daily!
Gout is a form of inflammation that occurs when crystals of uric acid accumulate in a joint (most commonly the big toe) and cause sudden pain. People with gout either overproduce uric acid or are less efficient at eliminating it.
If you suffer from gout you should closely watch your purine intake. Purines are compounds found in high-protein foods such as poultry and meat (especially organ meats), beer (and alcohol in general), and seafood. Gout can also be triggered by too much sugar, so limit soft drinks sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup or sugar and sugary drinks—stick to water!
Antioxidants and vitamin C will help a gout flare-up tremendously. Thankfully, haskap is full of both. Try this smoothie recipe daily to reduce uric acid:
1 cup                                  fresh or frozen Haskap berries
½ cup                                 strawberries
½ cup                                 raspberries
2 cups                               organic coconut milk
½ cup                                 organic Greek yogurt
1 tsp                                   chia seeds
manuka honey, to taste
8                                           ice cubes
Blend contents until smooth.
Can spinach salad get any healthier? Yes it can!
Spinach is chock-full of micronutrients, including iron. It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals, some of which are hard to find in other foods. Dress it up with haskap and you have the dream team of disease prevention!
½ cup                                 puréed Haskap berry
juice of 2 squeezed lemons
½ cup                                 olive oil
1 tbsp                                honey
salt and pepper to taste
¼ tsp                                  curcumin powder
6 cups                               baby spinach
½                                           Spanish onion, chopped
1 cup                                  pecans, chopped
¼ cup                                 cilantro
Blend all ingredients except spinach, onion, pecans and cilantro into a blender. Add baby spinach to a bowl and toss with the dressing. Sprinkle the chopped onion and pecans overtop and garnish heavily with cilantro.
Fast forward to haskapa.com to purchase Haskap products.
Haskap is a new crop, so very little research has been done to assess whether there any risks see how it might interact with medications.
Kanti Bhooshan Pandey and Syed Ibrahim Rizvi. Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2009 Nov-Dec; 2(5): 270–278.

  1. P. Vasantha Rupasinghe, Li Juan Yu,Khushwant S. Bhullar, Bob Bors. Short Communication: Haskap (Lonicera caerulea): A new berry crop with high antioxidant capacity. Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture, Dalhousie University, Truro, Nova Scotia,

Jurikova T et al.; Phenolic profile of edible honeysuckle berries (genus lonicera) and their biological effects. Molecules. ISSN: 1420-3049, 2011 Dec 22; Vol. 17 (1), pp. 61-79

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