This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
The Cranberry order of plants, found growing abundantly in England about heaths, and mountainous districts, affords several berried shrubs, the fruits of which possess some medicinal virtues. Among these the Cranberry, or Fenberry, is to be discovered in peat bogs, bearing solitary, terminal, bright red flowers, on straggling, wiry stems, of which the segments are bent back in a singular manner. Before the blossom expands the fruit stalk resembles the head and neck of a crane; the subacid fruit makes excellent tarts, and is signally antiscorbutic. This is the Oxycoccos palustris. Cranberries are also imported in barrels from Norway, and Russia; likewise a larger kind from America, Oxycoccos macrocarpus.
The Whortleberry, popularly called as to its fruit "whorts" (which ripen about the time of St. James' Feast, July.25th), is in its etymology corrupted from Myrtleberry by the initial M. having suffered a change into W. In the middle ages the Myrtleberry was used in medicine, and cookery.
The Bilberry (Vaccinium Myrtillus) - (and see "Fruits") - is an admirable astringent, and is treated of here explicitly among Fruits. Its fresh juice is antidotal to the bacillus of typhoid fever, as well as to some other kindred bacilli, generally killing these within twelve hours after reaching them within the intestines. Neither the acid gastric juice of the stomach, nor the alkaline contents of the bowels, will interfere with such germicidal action, which extends down to the lowest part of the alimentary canal. Likewise this fruit confers sure benefit against dysentery by its destructive power on bacilli. In Germany the berries are a favourite popular remedy for diarrhoea, being used either dry, or in fruit wine, syrup, or vegetable extract. Bilberry jam is excellent against diarrhoea, with putridity, and flatulence, from bacterial fermentation. This fruit, when stewed, is eaten cold by the Germans at the commencement of dinner in the place of soup.
"Our last Thanksgivin' dinner we Ate at Granny's house, and she Had - just as she alius does - The bestest pies as ever wus. Canned blaokbury pie, an' luscious goose-Burry, squashin' full of juice; An' rosburry, an' likewise plum, Yes, an' cherry pie; yum! yum! Peach, an' pumpkin too, you bet; Lawky, I can taste 'em yet. Yes, an' custard pie, an' mince! I aint ate no sich nice pies since!"
These various berries have induced some wag to string their terminal appellations together in an odd fashion: "Equidem non pendo unius fragarii ribes, taxi baccce simile: permittam tamen omnibus chiococcum te rubum. Te rubum idaeum prorsus exstitisse: vaccinium autem, senior die": "I don't care a straw-berry for a goose-berry like yew-berry, but I'll let folk-s(k)now-berry that you're a regular-ass-berry, and whort'll-berry-senior say?" Recently "Dagonet,"making a pilgrimage to Haworth, rendered famous by the Bronte family, came to a pastrycook's shop, over which was inscribed the inviting legend, "Funeral teas provided." He entered the shop, and found presiding therein a delightful Yorkshire housewife who was busy making parkins. He asked her for a Funeral Tea, whereat she smiled, and gave him some Bilberry tarts (which were a dream), and gossiped to him pleasantly of the Brontes, and showed him Branwell's chair, and told him all about "Funeral teas.".