Big Bad Berry Gang

The jamming bug bit me hard a few years ago though I didn’t start jamming and canning until last year when I took a class at June Taylor with my friend Barbara. I’ve made a few batches, including plum jam with our friends the O’Reillys, and with Barbara as well as on my own. This summer, Barbara and I made a peach-nectarine conserve with fruit from Blossom Bluff Orchards. Wowee zowee. 2008 is all about jams and homemade for holiday gifts in December.

While on the becoming-annual trip to Ashland and Portland, we stayed with our friends Pia and Jonathan and their daughters. The jam bug bit Pia this year. We thought it would be great to go berry picking and then make jam. Off we went, with Natalia and Amy, to Alebeke Farm to pick some marionberries and maybe raspberries, too.

Marionberries, if you’ve never seen one, are like blackberries but are longer (oooh, and sweet), about the length of a thumb.

Word of warning people: 36 pounds of marionberries and 8 pounds of raspberries is a big, time-consuming yield. You can see the boxes in our cart. (You can also see me looking big, not fashionably pregnant, just big pregnant.)

Wise folks would start the jamming process immediately, but we went to the store to buy 40 pounds of sugar (we used nearly 25) and other doo-dads, took naps, ate dinner.

And started jamming at 9pm.

At 9pm, we are laughing and singing and taking rib shots from Jonathan and Amy. Why? Because 44 pounds of berries requires a lot of lemon juice. When we did calculations, it seemed we would need close to 60 lemons (I’d originally purchased six thinking it extravagant). Lemons, at 9pm in the middle of downtown Portland, cost $1 each. Forty-four pounds of berries cost $66. Hmmm.

A few hours, and several jars later, Amy left (smart!) and Natalia valiantly made a third trip to the grocery store for more jars.

In all, we made 54 jars of jam — marionberry, mix of marion and raspberry, and raspberry — primarily of half-pints but about a third were pints. (The photo doesn’t show all the jars.)

We finished at 2am.

I think this shot of Pia shows what happens when you go too long. If only I’d taken a picture of my feet, which were as puffy as soaked kitchen sponges.

(The jam is fantastic.)

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