So, if you've been following along for a while, you know I'm really excited about foraging for foods. I mean, who doesn't love to enjoy food that was completely taken care of by Mother Nature and is completely organic?! Not to mention the fun of finding it- that's part of the joy. Summer offers many gifts in her bounty, and wild raspberries and blackberries are some of my favorites. The blackberries aren't quite ready yet, but they're on and will be coming soon. The raspberries, though, are in their prime and ready to be harvested.
Tucked away in a private spot on my dad's (and sisters') land is a wonderful and bountiful raspberry patch. We have had such luck with raspberries there that I've been able to pick enough for the last two years to make jelly. It's really quite a fun experience picking with the children, who of course come back to me with empty buckets and red-smeared faces. My dad also usually comes with us, which is another fun opportunity for us to make memories, but this year with his pancreas transplant being so recent, we weren't able to do it together.
Picking raspberries and blackberries are part of my childhood memories. I can remember tying an ice cream bucket around my waist and walking with my mom as we picked. At one point in my childhood, I ate so many blackberries while picking that I threw up....it obviously didn't phase me much though because blackberries are still my favorite! Last year, we made some memories for my own children while picking back at "the land" with my dad. We found the largest blackberry bush I had ever seen. It was well over 6 feet tall and full of plump, fat blackberries. As the kids and I started picking, I reached to the top to reach one of the biggest berries. The blackberry bush apparently didn't want me to take that one and somehow grabbed a hold of my arm tightly with it's thorns. I turned around and my hair got stuck too and I was completely trapped in the bush. I told the kids to go ahead and get Bumpa (what they call my dad) and tell him to come help me. Seeing me in the strong hold of the evil bush, the kids immediately began crying hysterically, which brought my dad back anyway. With my dad's help, I got out safely- and I got the berry!
Anyway-back to making jelly! While I am a huge jam lover, I unfortunately will not make wild raspberry jam. Why, you ask? Well, these organic berries have something lurking within that I prefer not to eat- white worms. Yes, there are these little, tiny and impossible to pick out worms who are almost invisible....until you put the berries in the refrigerator. When they're cold, they all crawl out and cover the tops of the berries and container that they're in. I personally prefer not to eat these worms, so instead of making chunky jam, we press the raspberries for juice, discard the pulp and worms to the chickens, and make jelly. Perhaps there are worm guts in my jelly. I don't know. However, it really is an amazing jelly, full of summer flavor, so to me it's worth it.
I use the recipe from New Life on a Homestead, as I found she also has the same situation with worms in her berries. Basically, the recipe works in three steps:
The ratio of raspberries to sugar in this recipe is 4 cups of raspberry juice *so the stuff you get after you strain* to 5 1/2 cups of sugar and 1 package of pectin. That's it! I was able to make 3 jelly jars and 2 pints of raspberry jelly from that recipe.
Of course when you're preserving you need to be careful. Don't eat the jelly if it has mold on it when you open it or if the seal has come loose. Be sure to label your jars with the date, too, so you know when you've made your jelly.
This recipe also works with blackberries!
What's your favorite type of jam/jelly?