Quickberry ! Quackberry ! Pick me a Blackberry !
Trainberry, Trackberry, Clickety-Clackberry;
Rumble and Ramble in Blackberry Bramble,
Billions of Berries for Blackberry Jamble !
-From Bruce Degen’s “Jamberry”
One of my favorite summer books to read to my kids is Bruce Degen’s “Jamberry”. It all about picking berries to make jam. We decided to try out our version of the book this past weekend by picking blackberries in western Washington. In late August, the hills are covered with wild blackberry bushes with ripe blackberries ready to be picked.
Apparently the bushes grow like weeds there, and the berries don’t get a lot of attention from natives. Perhaps since they do grow like weeds, people are so focused on getting rid of them, they don’t see the benefit of having them around? Maybe they do pick the berries, but there are so many that they get sick of eating them? I don’t know. I certainly haven’t gotten tired of eating them.
Armed with buckets, Tupperware dishes, and a machete we headed out (across the street) and picked some blackberries. Our whole gang included about 5 adults and 11 kids. In about an hour we had enough blackberries to make jam that should last us for a year.
Okay the machete probably wasn’t needed but it isn’t very often I get to use it. The blackberry bushes were probably about 8 foot high and were covered top to bottom with berries.
We picked enough berries to fill 5 gallon bags plus a freshly backed blackberry cobbler with ice cream. We’ve since used one of the bags for blackberry muffins, and plan to use most of the rest to make jam. I plan on following a blackberry jam recipe. I plan to mush the berries and separate most of the seeds through a strainer, then I’ll add sugar and pectin, and bring to a boil. I’ll use the water boiling canning method to cook and seal the jam in glass jars.
Ironically I stumbled upon an article about how to get worms out of blackberries. I wish I would have read the article before I picked the berries. In order to keep the berries fresh, we just did a light wash then froze the berries in bags. I haven’t inspected the berries we picked closely, but it sounds like there are tiny worms that are often found in blackberries. Probably not anything to be too concerned about, it just seems gross. Here is what the article suggested to do to get the worms out:
Make a salt water bath for the berries to soak in. Fill a large sink or bowl with ice water and add about 1/4 Cup of salt. Put in the fresh blackberries (not frozen) and let them sit for about 10 minutes. The worms will float to the surface.
I haven’t noticed any worms, so maybe we are okay. I still plan to make some jam.
Picking blackberries is a fun activity to do as a family. I think we all ended up with stained fingers and clothes, but were successful in picking a lot of berries. They taste sweet now, but by turning them into jam they will be great to have in the winter also.
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