Monday I made my mother-in-law pay for her keep (she'd been visiting us since last Tuesday). The day started with blackberry picking. We'd discussed going to pick blackberries earlier in the week, and that morning she kept looking at me sideways and asking, tentatively, just what we were going to do that morning. Finally, she said, "Won't we... get in trouble?" She thought I was planning a covert operation to illegally abscond with someone's fruit. No, we explained, one of the joys of Oregon is that its bounty is often free for the taking from public lands, or even those owned by individuals who have given permission to harvest from it.
The three of us picked ten pounds of berries in almost no time, thanks to Oregon's bounty of wild blackberries. We weren't even trying, but rather just picking the low hanging fruit, so to speak.
Little did I know she's eat most of our profit. :-) It was a bona-fide case of Berry Madness, a long-held affliction as explained by her sharing of stories from her days as a kid on the farm when she'd eaten so many strawberries she'd repeatedly broken out in hives and rashes (and scratched herself so much she scarred). When our big bucket was full and Scot called for the hands to leave the field, she threw herself back into the vines, two-fisting berries into her mouth like a starving person just introduced to the buffet. Every two steps back to the car one of us would spy a berry that just begged to be picked, so the return to the vehicle was slow going, indeed.
(Put her together with my Dad, and you'd have the most inefficient farm crew ever. But they'd both have their weekly allowance of fruit consumption packed into that afternoon, I'll tell you.)
The above pic is just a start.
Once home we canned jam. And jelly. And something halfway in between. Also two batches of freezer jam. I love the bright, lustrous texture and light of a good freezer jam--great as a soft spread, or a ice cream topping, or over a pound cake or... eaten with a spoon. Okay, maybe even just sucked off a finger.
The standard recommendations for sugar to fruit ratios in popular recipes amaze me -- it's crazy. No wonder we're a nation of diabetics. I always cut the sugar in half, if not further, for otherwise all you end up with is colored sugar and it's totally overpowering to what is otherwise amazingly wonderful fruit.
We also froze some de-seeded juice (we were all sore from our turns at the Foley Mill). Also preserved enough individual berries for a few pies.
The berries call me back for more, but, really... do I need more?
It's almost time to can the first batch of tomato soup. This year I'm also doing a marinara sauce, a hot pepper jelly, some plum sauce, salsa and...
Okay, so I do not need to go back for another batch of blackberries.
But maybe I will anyway.