It has begun

We had a busy busy weekend here. We attended a wedding; we hosted an out of town guest, took her to pick raspberries, and shared a scrumptious picnic with her; I baked some delicious cakes; and oh yeah, I competed in my first triathlon. No biggie.

So because it was such a busy weekend, I was surprised how many raspberries survived through it. They don’t last long once they are picked, and having picked them Friday, I expected a much bigger mess by the time I got around to them on Sunday afternoon. Instead, I was pleased to find that I was able to freeze one whole tray of them, leaving me with just enough berries for only a 2/3 batch of jam. (Not that this is a problem, as I have lots of plans for other jams and jellies this year…)


We didn’t pick that many to begin with. The farm we visited had a small number of rows, and since it is just about the end of the season here for berries anyway, I didn’t expect to hit gold or anything. We were able to just about fill one good sized box before Lilli got too hungry and we had to call it quits. 



We also were able to stuff ourselves silly, which is really the point of U-pick berries anyhow, as any good berry picker knows. 

Since I already went berry picking twice before the raspberries last week, (the blueberries, and also some blackberries growing down the block from me, for the delicious cakes I mentioned earlier) I was kind of picked out anyway. I had fun and got to visit with a friend I haven’t seen in years. Tamara is living in Baltimore, and has done at least a hundred exciting things between this visit and when we shared a tiny room in Cannoneer Court on Pratt Institute’s campus in Brooklyn (where I attended one depressing semester before putting my tail between my legs and heading home. Tamara was not, however, responsible for any of that depression.)



It’s a wonder I even managed to get to the berries on Sunday as it was, since that was the day of the race. I competed in the Danskin triathlon here in Seattle, finishing in just under 2 hours. I was quite surprised at how well I did, considering I really didn’t feel that ready. I took a nice long nap afterwards and felt revived enough to deal with the berries before making some dinner (back on LEAP this week, but that’s another story altogether, which I hope to share soon but has been so hard to write about…I don’t know where to start).



I slowly picked through what there was in the box. I fed a few to Lilli to keep her from climbing all over me while I sorted them. I slowly filled the tray and put it in the freezer. I put the rest in a pot, 4 heaping cups, and poured some sugar over. Then, I forgot all about the berries and the pot sat there for a couple of hours. 


Later, I brought it all to a boil. At this point I realized I once again could not remember exactly how many minutes to boil the jam for, so I had to call my mom since my family recipe cookbook is MIA. 


I forgot to stir it during the second boil, but I did remember the 
timer. 



I think it’s fair to say that by now I had come to terms with the fact that I was actually pretty exhausted and I could feel the soreness creeping in. Triathlons will do that, I guess.


I also forgot to ask Joe to buy lemons when he went shopping (which, by the way, writing the list for was the hardest thing I had done in a while. I think that’s when I figured out how out of it I was.) so I had to use lemon juice from a bottle. I was worried it wouldn’t have as much thickening power, but really it was fine. 



And today, I put it in jars. And I started to deal with the 50 lbs of apricots I impulse bought. And I got ready for the rest of the summer, which will involve canning lots of things, if the past 4 or 5 summers have been any indicator of my canning habits. It usually begins with the jams and ends with pickles or pumpkin butter and apple sauce. This year, who knows?



Berry Jam


You can use raspberries or blackberries with this jam, and probably other ones too but I’ve never tried because I love raspberries and blackberries so much–I sometimes put rhubarb in the raspberry jam, though. It’s pretty much out of this world delicious. 


6 heaping cups fruit
3 cups sugar, halved. Sometimes more for blackberries, if they’re very tart
juice of one lemon


You may need to rinse your berries before you start. Raspberries are generally clean enough, but pick them over to make sure there aren’t any bugs or sticks or cores left. Blackberries, I find, are often full of thorns and bits of plant. The best way to rinse them is to fill a bowl with water, dump the pre-measured berries in, and slowly skim off the stuff that floats to the top, occasionally giving a gentle stir to make sure you release all the unwanted stuff. Scoop the berries into a colander and go from there.


Bring the berries and the first cup and half of sugar to a boil. Boil for two minutes, stirring constantly. Add the second cup and a half of sugar bring back to a boil and boil for three minutes, again stirring constantly. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice. Poor into a clean, non reactive bowl and let set up overnight. 


Poor into clean, sterilized jars. Wipe the rims with a clean damp cloth. In our family, we seal the jars with wax. I think this is because my grandmother dislikes canning, and so this is an easy way to seal them without having to process them. I have always been too lazy myself to figure out how to do it any other way with this particular jam, but I’m sure you could process them for real. Otherwise, just pour about 1/4 inch of melted parowax over the top of the jam, let cool and then put your lids on. If you’re new to canning and the thought of processing scares you a bit, this is a great way to start while you get up the courage to try the whole kit and caboodle. Happy canning!




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One thought on “It has begun

  1. Pingback: Go Big Or Go Home | Kernels and Seeds

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