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Easter Ross honeyberry farmer delighted with first harvest amid plans for new product


By Hector MacKenzie

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Farmer Robert Mackenzie picking a new crop of honeyberries. Picture: Callum Mackay
Farmer Robert Mackenzie picking a new crop of honeyberries. Picture: Callum Mackay

A SUPERBERRY being harvested in Easter Ross for the first time this week could lead to the development of a new product as a local farmer ponders the fruits of his labour.

Honeyberries are being touted as the next big thing thanks to packing more antioxidants than blueberries, more vitamin C than oranges and more potassium than bananas.

Robert Mackenzie of Cullisse has this week been harvesting his first crop of the fruit which originate in Japan, where their names translates as "little present on the end of the branch".

Mr Mackenzie, who is part of the Scottish Honeyberries Growers cooperative, is using an innovation grant from Highlands and Islands Enterprise to probe possible new product lines which could range from anything to ice cream and smoothies to energy bars.

A handful of lucky locals have been amongst the first to sample the quirkly shaped, vibrant purple delights. The majority of the first crop is now being frozen.

Farmer Robert Mackenzie picking his first crop of honeyberries. Picture: Callum Mackay
Farmer Robert Mackenzie picking his first crop of honeyberries. Picture: Callum Mackay

Mr Mackenzie, whose Cullisse branded rapeseed oil products are enjoyed across the country, said: "We're hoping to market them. It has been nice to be outside picking them by hand and it allowed me to keep staff on during this lockdown period. They're good and versatile and also very hardy, able to withstand our weather."

He is happy for chefs or food manufacturers to get in touch with him through Cullisse and says more information can be found on the Scottish Honeyberry Growers site.

Did you know?

Honeyberries are a naturally existing member of the edible honeysuckle family. They are often referred to as ‘haskap’ which comes from their Japanese name Haskappu, which literally translates as ‘little present on the end of the branch’.

They have been cherished in Japan for decades, where they are known as the ‘berry of longevity’ or ‘berry of vision’ due to their apparent exceptional health benefits.

Advocates describe the taste as 'a mixture of blueberry, plum and grape - with added zing'.

The versatile berry could see it become a hit in the smoothie market and it can also be used as a freeze-dried snack, ice cream flavouring or juice

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