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Living Wild: Manzanita

Native Plants, Manzanita, Alicia Funk, Living WildDo you know about the native Manzanita plant and all the things they can be used for?  Alicia Funk, founder of Living Wild,  shared “Manzanita, an abundant evergreen shrub that grows through out the Sierra Nevada foothills and California, is often overlooked. However, its berries have a long history of use as a food, both as a cider and a sweet sugar or flour. Manzanita berries are a local superfood that can be eaten raw, used as a condiment, added to smoothies or used for baking. Manzanita only grows well under drought-tolerant conditions, another convincing reason to look no further than our backyards for a gluten-free superfood that doesn’t overuse precious water to grow.”  She was recently interviewed for the movie Elevate Tahoe about foraging for food in the woods and talks specifically about manzanita, to learn more about the movie click here.  Berries are available in neighborhood backyards and Manzanita sugar & flour are available at local stores including Outside Inn, Cal Organics, Natural Selection, HAALo, Ridge Café & Briarpatch.  Alicia is looking for more recipes for Manzanita sugar and flour and she’s got a goodie basket to giveaway to one lucky winner.  Post your favorite recipe that uses Manzanita on the Outside Inn’s blog, or if you’ve never cooked with the sugars post what you love about Manzanita for your chance to win.  Winner will be announced on Wednesday, May 21st, happy to mail prize if you’re not local.

Gift basket includes: Celebrate the local landscape with this uniquely handwoven basket, made by local artists from cattail and other Sierra Nevada native plants. The basket contains seasonal Wild Food Recipe cards, California Bay Spice, Manzanita Berry Sugar, Toyon Spice, Incense Cedar Smudge and a Madrone Berry Necklace.


© 2014 InnSide Nevada City, Photos by Alicia Funk

15 replies
  1. Cathy
    Cathy says:

    I didn’t know this. But the deer family (s) in my neighborhood must have because they go to town on the Manzanitas around here! Nature’s little gardeners. The deep red wood of the Manzanita is gorgeous.

    • erin
      erin says:

      Learn something new every day around here, right? Thanks for coming to the blogging class, can’t wait to see you put that knowledge to use.

  2. Kathy Frey
    Kathy Frey says:

    I have not tried manzanita either, but I bet it would be delicious in my GF/DF strawberry rhubarb crumble… You accept bribes, right? I’ll bring you a piece if I win 🙂

    • erin
      erin says:

      Bribes… humm… I do recall perhaps mentioning that yes, I do accept bribes. Would love to hear what you make with it, and you know you can buy them at HAALo, since you spend time there…

  3. Ashley Neufeld
    Ashley Neufeld says:

    I’ve never used manzanita sugar before but I love the idea of alternative sugars. I’ll have to research the GI of manzanita sugar too. I love palm sugar but worry about the environments we extract them from. Manzanita sounds like a wonderfully abundant alternative! Thanks for sharing this Erin!!

    • erin
      erin says:

      I learn new things too, it’s a great fun adventure this little blog of mine. Glad to hear you’re thinking of future generations with all the options out there.

  4. Shana M
    Shana M says:

    I’ve used manzanita berries in preserves, sort of the same way you would rose hips. I was thinking I’d try out a manzanita strawberry jam this year. Soon! I’ll let Alicia know how it turns out. I also love making a delicate tea out of the manzanita blossoms, and I just used some to decorate a wedding cake this spring. I love manzanita!

    • erin
      erin says:

      Fun to think they’ve been there the whole time and you never even knew you could eat them…. You can pick up a copy of Living Wild at the Outside Inn (or around town) and find a recipe or two.

  5. Ingrid Knox
    Ingrid Knox says:

    I’ve had something like Douglas Fir tea sweetened with Manzanita sugar – actually made by Alicia – it’s interesting. I really love it though when our Manzanitas are blooming. The leaves are a very sagey/olive green and the flowers are a delicate pink and white.

  6. Diane Richards
    Diane Richards says:

    With all the hiking I’ve done with hiking groups and land trusts in the area, I’ve never heard anyone mention Manzanita used in cooking, even if it was done so by the California Indians, unless I was off looking at a wildflower or taking a photo when they mentioned it. I would love to give it a try 🙂

  7. Eric Bowman
    Eric Bowman says:

    I haven’t tried manzanita sugar or flour before, but I’d sure like to! We’re moving to Grass Valley in June and the property we’re buying has some manzanita on it. They are beautiful plants!

  8. Alicia Funk
    Alicia Funk says:

    If I had to pick only one local plant as my favorite, it would be manzanita. Its often overlooked as just an ordinary, abundant shrub and yet it holds so much food for our community. The cider is so refreshing for our family in the summer, the salad dressing is tangy and delicious on wild or garden greens, and manzanita crackers have a flavor that wakes up our sleepy taste buds that are used to only a narrow range of tastes. Its funny how we search for the exotic flavors in other regions of the world when its right here in our backyards. I can’t wait for everyone to try it and help me come up with more amazing recipes.

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