Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gleaning Ill Gotten Gains

Confession is good for the soul right?  Right?  It all started so innocently...George said lets go for a ride and I will look for stuff to take pictures of.  I said sure.  The next thing I knew we had stopped at an old cemetery and I was filling my shirt tails with raspberries from the edge of the mowed area. I couldn't help myself, there they were, ripe and plentiful and mine (sort of) for the taking.  I don't think the occupants of the cemetery minded, but it ended with George shaking his head and telling me that he didn't think berry picking was supposed to be a contact sport.  I have one less non-stained shirt to wear on the weekends, several new scratches, and a few jars of blackberry jelly.  And George found an Mulberry tree and pointed it out to me...I know what I will be doing the rest of the evenings this week.

Black Raspberry Jelly

Place 2 pints of ripe raspberries in a saucepan and cover with water.  Boil for 5 minutes and run an immersion blender through the berries to crush. 

Run the berries through a food mill or sieve to strain out the seeds.  I used several sieves of decreasing  pore size to repeatedly strain the pulp so that I retained as much of the pulp as possible while removing the seeds.  I wasn't going for a perfectly clear jelly, but I wanted more of a seedless fruit spread.  If you want a clear jelly you should strain the pulp through a cheesecloth or jelly bag and let it sit undisturbed overnight without squeezing. 

Measure 3 c of the juice/pulp and add 1 package of powdered pectin. Bring to a full rolling boil.  Add 4 2/3 c sugar all at once and return to a boil.  Boil for 1 minute then pour into hot jars and process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.

When we got home I went searching on my own land and found a couple more pints of raspberries and blackberries.  I combined them with the mulberries I got from the cemetery and made some mixed berry syrup.

Honest Blackberries

I prepared the juice from the mixed berries as described above, then I added an equal amount of sugar and returned to a boil.  I then poured into hot jars and processed 30 minutes.  I will probably use the syrup on pancakes, though it is a bit runny, but I will also make soda by mixing a couple of tablespoons with soda water.  You could also add  it to lemonade or pour it over ice cream.

I don't know what I am going to do with mulberries yet, but they are sweet and delicious.  I may just do syrup and jelly, but I may venture into some other territories.

I guess I feel guilty about gleaning, but not guilty enough to stop.

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