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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Picking Berries

Growing up we spent a lot of time picking wild berries of summer. My dad had 40 acres of land. When the wild berries were ripe we would manage to pick several quarts a piece. We would start the season with wild strawberries, move onto black and red raspberries, and then end the berry season with black long berries. Sometimes we would find an occasional current bush or goose berry bush. My favorites were always the wild strawberries and black raspberries. I always liked them freshly picked. My mom however, liked to can and freeze jam and jellies because it would allow the tastes of the season to last longer and also stretch the deliciousness to many more hungry mouths.   
We would always get ready by dressing in heavy jeans and a long sleeve shirt.   Mom, would spray us with bug spray on occasion, hand us a large pail and send us out the door.   We would come back with 1/2 full and full pails, stained hands and mouths, burdocks on our clothing and sometimes in our hair and plenty of scratches from taking off our long sleeved shirts and tramping through the berry patches.  Often whining it was too hot or buggy to pick anymore.  
These days I am lucky to find a few wild strawberries and a quart of wild black raspberries. I have however found a few places that I can pick blueberries and purchase them by the quart a lot cheaper than I can buy them already picked by the quart. I find it very relaxing and enjoyable to stand at a bush pulling off the ripe berries and hearing them plunk into the bottom of a plastic bucket. I often lose all track of time and am always surprised at how fast a couple of hours in the patch go by. I also find it very hard to stop picking until the bucket is full. That is how enjoyable I find it. Funny, how as a child I always thought of it as more of a chore and couldn’t wait to get to the eating part.  
Infused Blueberry Syrup
1/2 cup maple syrup (your favorite brand)
1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tbsp. lemon juice 
Dash of salt
Dash of cinnamon (optional)
Put the syrup and blueberries into a sauce pan and bring to the boil. Be sure you have a pan big enough that it won’t boil over. Syrup or sugar based syrup tend to foam up when boiling. Let bubble for 5 to 8 minutes, and then pour into a creamer and bring to the breakfast table with the pancakes. If you like your syrup thicker you can reduce it further down by cooking it longer.   However, be careful not to overcook it, as the natural pectin may thicken into a jelly.
  • You can also smash the blueberries with a potato masher while cooking the syrup down and then strain the syrup to remove the skins. 
  • Also good poured over ice cream
  • Stirred into plain  yogurt
  • Drizzled over plain cheesecake
  • Added to milkshakes or smoothies
  • Spilled over pancakes, waffles or French toast

  • Serve it over a brick of cream cheese with finely diced jalapeno peppers w/crackers
  • Serve over pork chops or pork roast with a few fresh berries thrown in 
  • Make extra, pour it in a mason jar and give it as a gift.  

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