Oooh-la-la Olallieberries

In my Friday’s Feast post this week, I was asked about my favorite pie, and I answered “olallieberry,” which is apparently not a terribly common berry.

In the interest of converting the world to my tastes, educating the public, then, I give you the following:

The olallieberry is a cross between the loganberry (blackberry x raspberry) and youngberry (blackberry x dewberry), and tastes a little darker and a little tarter than any of them, with a little more complexity to the flavor. In the store, if they weren’t labeled, you’d mistake them for blackberries, most likely.

But they’re ALWAYS labeled. Why? Because while they aren’t rare, they do have a limited growing season. In fact, in Northern California their growing season is mid-June to mid-July, and they’re pretty much only grown in California.

The best time to eat them is in the first three weeks of June, which, coincidentally, is about the only time Olallieberry pie is ever offered in restaurants. They’re a coastal berry. If you’ve never sat in the sun in Santa Cruz or San Luis Obispo, tasting the salty tang of the breeze and sipping coffee while eating a slice of Olallieberry pie, you have missed out on a “perfect moment,” at least food-wise.

Olallieberries are sometimes marketed as marionberries, which is not correct, since marionberries are a cross between olallieberries and Chehalem berries, as per this chart.

Olallie, by the way, is the Chinook word for “berry.”

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