Sunday, July 12, 2009

Gleaning and its rewards

The beginning of harvest season. I love the produce coming on, the anticipation of peas and beans, seeing the fruit ripen. I go and watch the garden, seeing it's changes, noticing the green tomatoes and onions getting bigger. It satisfies the soul to see the fruits of my labor.

But I don't get all I need from my own garden. I pick berries up at my friends place, freezing some, and making some into jam and syrup for the winter. I start perusing the farmers markets, looking for good deals on things that either aren't growing well or that I don't grow. Part of the fun!

A friend of mine called me on Friday, offering me a deal on raspberries. Now, I don't grow any cane berries, it takes too much space for my yard. And I almost never get raspberries because they cost too dear. Blackberries? Pfft! That is easy, I can find those growing on the side of the road (or at my friends!), but raspberries need special care and are harder to come by. The deal was to pick the field, and I would get to keep half of whatever I picked. Oh yeah, I am all over that deal!

I dragged out Skinny-boy with me to help. We started early in the morning, and I figured it would take about an hour to pick. Oh, dear! Did I ever mis-gauge that one! We were out there picking for two and a half hours. But I came away with huge bowls full of berries, for no cost but my labor.

Then it was off toward home. Thankfully, it was cool this Saturday, so I immediately started making the jam. Washed up the berries, put it in a huge pot. Let it simmer for a few hours, added a pound or so of sugar. After it simmered down for a while, I added some lemon juice to it.

Washing up jars, digging out rings (gotta find those rings that I haven't needed to use since last fall), trying to find lids to match the jars. Then, pouring in the jam ('s much more like syrup. It's not as thick as I would like!) and water boiling the jars for 10 minutes.

All the jars sealed (total score!). Today, I put away all my jam/syrup for the winter time. Except that one stubborn jar that was partial. That one....that is for pouring over ice cream. Skinny-boy has that jar close to gone already. Nice to see the syrup is a hit with him!

Oh, the satisfaction of seeing a job through. From picking the berries in the early morning, to cooking up the jam, to jarring them up. Knowing that I have accomplished something yummy and good for my family.

Plus, eating the syrup over brownies and ice cream tonight? Made it all worthwhile.

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