Posts Tagged ‘berries’

little berries


What wild berries the bears didn’t get to first have been lovingly picked all summer long by my dearest friend, Lynn, and her doggy pal, Lena Mae. Lynn always tries to save some for me to pick when I finally get upstate New York for a visit. Then we combine all of the berries and make a winter’s supply of jam.

I don’t much follow the USDA regulations that say all jams have to be preserved in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Nor do I use pectin. I like the pure berry taste that really stands out when you boil the berries with some sugar and lemon juice until they are thick. It does take a bit of sugar to get the mix to gel, but the lemon offsets the sweetness and highlights the berry flavor. I do make sure that my jars are sterilized and hot when I am filling them and that my caps and lids are new. I fill the boiling hot jam into the jars, cap tightly, turn upside down and let cool. When cool, I turn right side up and store in a cool spot for winter’s toast. This is the way my grandmother did it, my mother did it, and we never had a problem. So it is what I do. However, in my last preserving book, The Best Little Book of Preserves and Pickles, I tell you to follow the USDA rules – I may do it my way in my kitchen, but I know better than to mess with the government in print!


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Could it be more appropriate that the Barryville (New York) farmers market gave us a fantastic assortment of summer berries?  We bought blackberries as big as your thumb, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and gooseberries.  The latter have been reserved to be turned into a gooseberry fool while all of the others have just been gobbled up straight from their boxes.  So sweet and luscious, no sugar needed.

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©Stephen Kolyer_strawberry

You can’t tell from looking at this photo, but here we have the most old-fashioned pie I can think to make in the spring – strawberry-rhubarb.  I only make it when rhubarb is fresh from the yard of my best buddy, Bee.  Her one gigantic plant yields enough rhubarb for quite a few pies and lots of jars of jam.  Steve took the photo of the pie just as it came out of the oven and then we forgot to take another photo once we cut a slice.  It was just so good we ate before we thought!  Will try to do better next time.


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Isn’t bittersweet the saddest word?   Parting can be bittersweet, love can be bittersweet, joy can be bittersweet, and on it goes.  We thought that this one branch of bittersweet berries left on the dying vine said it all – lone, but beautiful – color standing out in the fading fall light.  Winter is coming and it is always bittersweet to say goodbye to the lushness of summer and the glory of fall.


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I was so busy at my desk all summer that I didn’t get as much time in the country as I would like.  Normally my desk has an empty chair sitting in front of it during those balmy months when the garden and woods call.  But, while I was toiling at the desk, my best buddy Lynn and my trusty dog pal, Lena Mae, were making sure that I had plenty to do when I moved from the desk to the stove.  They picked so many wild berries (on top of those that they ate) that there was no freezer space left, so this past weekend we emptied the freezers and made 36 jars of wild black and red raspberry jam and a most delicious and burstingly-full wild red raspberry pie.  You can find the recipe for the pastry under an earlier lemon meringue pie post – the filling was simply lots of wild berries, a touch of sugar (we like to really taste the berries), a touch of lemon, and about ¼ cup of tapioca.


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