Over the past week my wife and I have been picking out blackberries from a patch of briers along our neighbors fence line. We got a bunch and made two black berry cobblers to give to our neighbors and then froze a bunch to use in cereal and yogurt. We used all those frozen ones and more fresh ones recently to make blackberry jam.
Blackberry jam is not hard to make, however it does require a big time commitment but it is worth it. Gathering the berries alone takes a while and it will leave you with scraps from briers up and down your arms. Over the past week we gathered around 24 cups of berries, which may seem like a lot, but after you smash them and remove seeds 18 cups of berries becomes about 8 cups of blackberry juice. That 8 cups when combined with sugar and pectin yielded us about 6 jars of jam, and it is lovely. We all agree the blackberry jam is our favorite by a long shot. We’ve tried strawberry jam, carrot jam, and blackberry jam.
When picking the berries it is important to avoid ones that aren’t completely black, shiny, and swollen. If you pick those they will be too sour to eat raw, but it’s nothing a bowl full of sugary cereal or cane sugar can’t fix. The ones that are fully black, shiny, and swollen are absolutely delectable. They are also difficult to find because once the berries reach this point they will fall off the plant with the slightest touch and the berries will remain lost under the briers forever.
Foraging for food is a topic that interests me, I think it’s a valuable skill that we (humanity) don’t want to lose. If you ever want to get an idea of the disconnect from nature and food that is coming to the rest of the world look toward the US. People are disconnected from their food and have no idea where it comes from. It seems like it’s the result of a developed society that over time we neglect our bare necessities and forget how to satisfy them. There is a lot of grandmother knowledge that risks being victims to modernity, the internet and the unlimited access of information (much of it dubious, unlike your grandmother’s 70 year old habits).