High Bush Cranberry (aka Crampbark, Viburnum Edule)
Small tart red jewels that dangle below the leaves, these edible berries decorate the forest as they sparkle in tiny bunches and as the autumn leaves turn bright red the paint the landscape with color. Plentiful berries are easy to harvest from shrubs that stand several feet tall. Found in forests and near streams across Alaska. Once harvested I spread the berries on a flat pan with parchment paper, pick out any plant debris and freeze. The hard individual berries can then be stored in containers in the freezer for easy access all year long. I love to add a small handful to sparkling water or vodka cocktails as ice cubes that add flavor, color and some health benefits. High Bush Cranberries are high in vitamin C and also provide vitamin K. They make great juices, syrups and jellies, although their small flat seeds make them less than ideal for baking. When hiking they are is great to pop a few in your mouth & enjoy the burst of juice to help quench your thirst.
Medicinally the inner bark can be used topically or internally in a tea, tincture, salve, oil or poultice to relieve cramping. The bark has also been used to relieve sore throats and coughs. The bark offers the benefits of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and several other minerals. The bark should be harvested before the plant energy is sent into berries. Thin strips can then be dried and stored. A jar of the dried inner bark is near the front of my natural medicine cabinet.