Saturday, July 30, 2011

Wild Raspberry and Blueberry Jam

Getting read to freeze. Checking for bugs is easier at this point.

What I love most about the summer, along with all the other things I’ve been waxing poetic about lately, is picking fruit. Mostly berries. The other day, I went with my husband and son to pick blueberries, and as we drove home I said that it was perfect—the only thing I wanted to do. Steve commented that although it was fun, he could only handle it once or twice a summer. That I could do it all the time was surprising to him. I find it surprising that people don’t want to pick berries all the time. That someone could pass berry bushes filled with ripe red raspberries is unthinkable to me.

Town hall? A cup of tea?

Everybody has a place that they belong in, and mine is the woods, I think. The other morning I got out early to pick in my secret wild raspberry (also called wineberries) patch. This was one of the hottest days of the year, to date, and I appropriately left at 7 a.m. I headed off with my bait bucket—perfect for berry picking. With my smart hiking shoes, I took off along the path and suddenly drifted into my world. Steve is never happier than when body surfing in the ocean. I easily can see it, as I sit on the sand while he's in the surf, by the light in his eye, that he is deeply happy.

A perfect ladder for a squirrel.

For me it’s winding paths in the mountains. It’s rocks and downed trees, seas of fern, and a muted quiet. Soon, I am lost in the berry picking, except for remembering to whistle or sing (this year it was songs from the new Winnie the pooh soundtrack, fittingly enough, and don't laugh-- it's a great album!) in case a bear is somewhere doing the same thing I am. I am happiest when I’m in that dark, green veiled world. A world where I can imagine frogs talking to mice in waistcoats, or a fox smoking a cheroot while he surveys his domain. There are secret little worlds in there, in the hollowed out tree trunks and lily-pad-strewn ponds, with its dark peaty browns and lacy soft greens and dots of ruby red amidst it.

A lovely place to rest for a weary spider.

When I came back, legs scratched and hands sticky with resin, I felt satisfied with my haul, which is good because it was probably my last of the season. I decided to stop this particular moment in time with some blueberries in a small batch jam. The sweetness of the blueberries stand up to the tart wild raspberries. And the pectin of the blues makes for a nice set, easily gained with the acid of both fruit. This recipe made a full pint that I stuck in the fridge and is almost already gone.  You could process two half-pints instead for ten minutes.

1 cup of wild raspberries
1 cup of blueberries (good for you if they're wild too!)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Put all ingredients in a pot that looks like it's larger than you need. It's not much fruit, but it will still boil up high, like all jams. I let my fruit macerate with the sugar overnight, just because I was too tired to do it then. Either way, when you are ready, bring the mixture to a boil. Let the little bubbles rise and wave frantically. My jam reached a gel stage after about ten minutes of boiling. I didn't use a freezer test or thermometer, just checked it dripping off my spoon and watched for sheeting. I'll admit, it's easier to recognize when you've made jam a ton of times. Remember, a thin jam is never a problem. A stack of pancakes will always come to the rescue.

Turn off the heat and let the bubbles subside. Ladle the jam into a warmed pint jar--I fill mine with very hot tap water and dump it out right before filling, so that it's not such a shock from boil to bottle. Or, as I mentioned you can process this, following normal canning procedure, for ten minutes in two half-pint jars.

I like this jam on toast, while thinking about chipmunks meeting for tea on a toadstool, or some kind of woodland fiction like that.

A spoonful of jam makes every story better.


  1. Totally delicious. I love that, when you go foraging, collect a medley of different ingredients on your outing and then make your jam as a souvenir of your experience.

  2. Amazing. A good piece of bread and I'd be happy for a lifetime :)

  3. What a great friend recommended it to me and I'm so glad she did! I have to completely agree with you as far as being out in the woods! I live in a little corner of SW Washington state right by Mt. St. Helens and we sure got the woods here...LOL! We mainly have blackberries and huckleberries out here, I do have a raspberry bush planted, my neighbor has a blueberry and so, between the two of us, we should be able to make some of your delicious jam! Please visit my blog at if you would like! Thanks!!

  4. Beautiful post Julia! I know the feeling~ I love being in the woods, peeking around corners and just noticing it all.
    I don't think I've had a wild raspberry!

  5. Gloria - I think that's why I preserve. I like to keep moments in time. Don't you?

    Jane - Right?

    witchywoman - Thank you! And thanks for coming by. The PNW is awesome berry heaven, isn't it?? I'll come by, thanks for leaving your blog address. : )

    Meg - Aw, thanks, you! You aren't missing out too badly on the wild raspberry, esp. considering the berry goodness you get out where you live!

  6. "I like this jam on toast, while thinking about chipmunks meeting for tea on a toadstool, or some kind of woodland fiction like that." -- excellent.

  7. How wonderful to know a place you belong. I love seeing the pics of the forest near you. It is beautiful. The forests of California all looks so different (also beautiful, but different) I haven't found secret berry patches in my special places, I guess I need to keep looking!

  8. Denise - Thanks. : )

    Karen - Keep looking. I know for sure you have blackberry bushes out there somewhere!

  9. I read this last week, and was thinking about you and your berry pickin' when I found a patch of wild raspberries pretty much right behind my house a few days ago. Even though I may be allergic and they're on the way out, Luc and I still ate a few handfuls. I may or may not have had a slight reaction, which I'm choosing to ignore - and plot for next year to snag them in their prime. (I suppose I should be responsible with my health, and give them away however.)

  10. Simple. Summer. Goodness. I like your style!

  11. R - There is nothing finer than scoring a secret berry patch! I have mental notes of all the little spots I have found. Thinking about writing it all down because it gets bigger and bigger. And what a bummer, about possibly being allergic to them. Sounds like Luc isn't though! He can eat your share...

    Erin - Thanks! it's how I roll. ; )