Thursday, August 8, 2013

Foraged in Stages

As I think I've previously mentioned, this has been an excellent year for berries in our area.  Everywhere I go, I find some sort of berry or other.  So far it's been blueberries, elderberries, and blackberries, with a few raspberries thrown in for good measure.  It is much more fun to go on a walk when one can stop and eat a few berries!

However I have also wanted to make blackberry jam.  But I never get enough at one place to make that possible.  So I have been going on lots of walks, carrying ziploc bags or little berry baskets, and getting a few here, a few there.  I have lots of blackberry areas staked out, and would give more berries time to ripen and go back.  It's paid off; I accumulated and froze 2 quarts of berries and, yesterday, got about 1 cup more.  Time to make jam.

I pulled out the food mill this morning and ran everything through.  The yield was 5 cups of seedless blackberry puree, just enough for a batch of jam with the powdered pectin.  Somehow it made 9 cups of jam, which was a surprise, as the recipe indicated I'd only get 7.  Whatever!  The 8 year old, who helped get a lot of the berries, got to lick the pot for breakfast.  How great is that?

The 8 year old and I also got 3 pounds of elderberries while we were out yesterday, from that same wonderful shrub I'd found before.  More were ripe this time, so it was easier.  Yesterday I smushed them with an immersion blender and ran them through a jelly bag, getting 1 quart of juice.  Today I mixed that quart with 4 cups of sugar and made syrup.  I ended up with exactly 3 pints, divvied up into 12-ounce and 8-ounce jars.  I used Hank Shaw's recipe - he has terrific recipes for foraged foods.  (As an aside, I'm hoping to go to his book tour stop in our area this fall.)

Two foraged canning projects in one day!  Crazy!

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