In Season: "Mountain Strawberries"

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The past few years I have spent my free mornings walking up the leg of Gwanak Mountain that’s behind my house.  It’s an easy thirty-minute walk that passes by four gorgeous Buddhist temples and ends with satisfying views of my fair city of Anyang.  In June, little berries popped out on the side of the road that looked like raspberries.  They’re tart and seedier than the raspberries and blackberries I used to pick at my grandparents’ place in North Carolina, but it’s always cool to forage your snacks while hiking.

These little berries are called “san ddalgi” 산딸기, or “mountain strawberries.” The English name is Korean raspberry.

This is the first year, though, that I’ve seen them for sale on the street.  I bought a small batch from my local tiny mart and tried them.  They’re much milder than the ones on the mountain behind our home.  They have the texture of a raspberry and the flavor of a very weak strawberry with some other aroma that hits the back of the tongue that’s unfamiliar that’s similar to the way that Korean bean sprouts taste, what I say, soapier, than other bean sprouts.

Nonetheless, I found that they were good blended with frozen bananas in a smoothie.  With the store bought ones, though, clean them thoroughly and check each one for mold.

They’re on the mountains from now until late July.  If your eyes are peeled, you’ll also catch some tiny berries that actually do look like wild strawberries.  Last year, I broke all the rules of my old Boy Scout manual and tried one.

Didn’t die.

The wild strawberry was mild and juicy.  Not sweet.  But again, something interesting to look out for when hiking the many mountains in Korea.

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9 thoughts on “In Season: "Mountain Strawberries"”

  1. The wild strawberries here are in fact mildly toxic ~ don’t keep chowing on them. Also, in general it’s a bad idea to collect edibles from any plant growing within a few meters of the road because of pollution issues. Still, a handful or two won’t kill you.
    Is this really the first time you’ve seen them in stores? They’ve been wildly available in markets and marts in Seoul for years!

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  2. Ah! That’s what the kids were talking about! I had them at a minbak in Gyong-ju a few weeks ago, pretty nice.

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  3. See Joe this is the interesting stuff you could do on KBS. Or showing people how to make fudge brownies with sesame seed leaves and crunky bars. You do lots of cool stuff. Heck, have Staff and Jen over and do a podcast Seoul Survivors style.

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  4. In season, I have seen this for sale in fruit markets in Yeoksam-dong, in Seoul. I used to eat them a few times a year… didn’t know they were toxic! I must be immune to them, too?

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  5. yes, i’d like to get the lowdown on toxin levels in korean produce: apples, potatoes, etc.. strawberries are toxic in the u.s. as well. migrant workers in california get cancer of the hands due to the high exposure to the pesticides on strawberries. so, i wonder if the greenhouse berries here have less exposure? but i know the korean farmer has no qualms about using potent pesticide sprays

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