Friday, July 25, 2008

Canning as a Contact Sport

We finally made it to the u-pick blueberry place on Tuesday. With our crew it didn’t take but a couple hours to pick 5 gallons. Youngest, at 8, was not real happy until he discovered an apple tree he could play under and climb and make into his special place . . . And when the rest of us had had enough sun in the berry fields we joined him in there!

I love this place. The lady is so extremely local. I value that. Ok, I am that too, but I value that. I love my friends from everywhere but it is so rare that someone is from somewhere and is still there and there is a connection to place, a level of knowledge and connection, a culture, that just isn’t there otherwise. And she’s just really nice, asked us when we paid her if we felt like we were satisfied and getting good value for our money. I think she’s gone up a dollar a gallon in the past two years. She was worried that one man had been out picking for a long time and asked us if we’d seen him . . . so we went and found him to make sure he was ok before we left, so she wouldn’t worry. She told us tales of people passing out in the field and her taking chairs to people so they could sit while they picked.

Then on Wednesday husband went and picked four gallons of blackberries. So we had a lot of processing to do. I learned how they make Molotov cocktails from a Professor O’Donnell I met in 1980 when the Troubles were what terrorism meant. They put sugar in them because it makes the heat stick. Canning hot sugar is dangerous. I know that well. Kids have always been banned from the kitchen when we are doing it, and we don’t do it alone.

And we still had an accident today. I was pouring the stuff into the jars and dropped the pot somehow and some sloshed on my wrist and sure enough, it burned the fire out of it. As careful as you are, sometimes sh*t happens. As it turns out, it isn’t too serious and I’m real glad of that. We soldiered on with the jamming anyway and made 30 pints which was 6 batches of blackberry (one of them a partial batch since I dropped it) and one of blueberry and about one third of what we’ll hope to end the year with. We also dried about two gallons of the blueberries, and froze a couple, and ate the rest I guess.

And we’re deciding which days this coming week will be berry picking days.

14 comments:

Lewis said...

Umm, blackberry cobbler and a cold glass of milk. Don't get no better than that.

Anonymous said...

Oooh, Where is this u-pick place? I'm local to you, so would appreciate hearing about this. We've been picking blackberries for the past two weeks, and canning, freezing and eating them.

CG said...

It is in Shady Valley. E-mail me and I can get you directions.

laura said...

glorious!! well except for the burn part...but even that has it's magic bits.

those sure are some fancy boxes!!!

The Purloined Letter said...

Hope your wrist is doing better. Yikes. But great work on all the canning!

JoyceAnn said...

Would love to know where you found the crates. They would be so handy for canned goods.

I've been making wild blackberry jelly over the last 3 weeks , today , my daughter and I will be making blueberry jam. It doesn't get any better than homemade jams and jellies. Yours look delish.

~ Blessings ~
JoyceAnn

Gypsy said...

yummy! We picked blueberries up in Ashe Co. NC last week and I have to say that fresh picked berries are the best!

We should have weighed my neice on the way in and way out! All we heard from her while she was picking was...one for the bucket one for me. one for the bucket two for me.

CG said...

ja! Ha! I thought (until I looked up your profile) that maybe you were my cousin, since I have one by that name!

I can't figure out if my burn is worse or better than I thought. It looks horrible. It doesn't hurt. So be careful all you jammers out there!

More picking this week! And Lewis, we did have the cobbler!

Alecto said...

You know I never did think of it as a contact sport but that's about the best description I've ever heard. When we get going all the kids are sent out of the kitchen, no matter what's being canned, and more often than not I just back off and let NoMans go to it once the jams and jellies are ready to go (he does ALL of the ladling because I am the resident klutz).

CG said...

a ladle would be smart but I long ago got impatient with that! If I were to do it by myself, I'd ladle.

I also don't do it anywhere near USDA guidelines. I do not boil jars, just wash well. I do boil lids. And once filled and lidded, I just turn upside down until they are cool enough to touch. I've a friend who still uses paraffin which saves you lids. Really, do all that boiling of jars and hot water bath canning if you want to, but it really is not necessary.

Shakespere said...

Interesting blog. I enjoyed reading. Thanks.

jenny said...

I must admit, I re-use the lids twice. I had a moment where I ran out of lids and still had a couple of jars to seal, so I swiped a couple of lids from jars in the fridge. They sealed up just fine. A couple old-timers I talked with say they do it too, only 2 or 3 times before they toss and they mark on the lid to know how many times it was used.

It hasn't happened yet, but if it didn't seal, I would toss it and put a new lid on it.

Hope your hand is feeling better and does not leave a scar.

jenny said...

btw, I like your wooden crates, too!! Wherever did you get those?

CG said...

those wooden crates we made. I would like to say they are for sale, and if we had some way to saw the slats, they would be.