Photos that connect to our heart.
We live in the middle of berry growing country, here in NW Washington. Massive fields of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries grow all around us. On a warm summer day you can drive past the berry fields and smell the scent of sun warmed berries - it is heaven.
The raspberries grow in manicured fields.
The vines are bent over and tied to wires running through the fields. The bending makes the vines produce more flowers, and more berries
This is work that the migrant workers do, and I always thank them for their help in the berry fields.
Each winter the raspberry vines look like this
And in the summer - like this.
There are many farmers that have set up stands - for U-Pick and for buying flats of berries. The prices are amazingly good - even though the cost has risen in the past few years, but then what costs haven't? There are roadside stands or you can go right to the farms. We save a lot of money by going to the farms - the berries there are about 1/10th the price of store bought berries - and they are fresher - right from the fields, picked that day. Many of the farms are now selling frozen berries all year, in case you run out.
Besides the berry farms - our area is rampant with the delicious Himalaya Berry - a variety of berry that Luther Burbank, in California, was crossing with native blackberries to produce a sturdier, more prolific berry vine. He did a fabulous job, some of the Himalaya Berries escaped the laboratory and we now have them from California to British Columbia - vast rampant patches of vines that will devour a building in no time if left alone. But we also have access to all those free berries - watch out for the vicious thorns.
This is what happens to old buildings left for a few years - and it really doesn't take long for them to disappear.
Clusters of blackberries tempt us to pick "just a few more".
Our favorite spot to pick wild blackberries - we asked permission of the neighbor, since no one lives in this house any longer. The neighbor keeps the lawns mowed and the blackberries cut back just enough to keep the house from being destroyed. We peeked in the glass-less windows - there are racks of cloths hanging in some of the rooms, and lots of furnishings, like someone just walked away long ago.
With all these berries available, I make jam. I make enough jam so our daughters' families have jam through the year too. I love making jam.
We have a new favorite berry farm this year - Barbie's. Their berries are always fresh. I've only found one or two bad berries in a flat.
They handle their berries carefully and it shows.
Some of the berries go into the freezer - first on a cookie sheet so they are not frozen in a solid lump - and then in freezer containers, waiting for pies, cobblers, turnovers, for eating on ice cream or in plain yogurt, for muffins and nut breads - oh the things we can make with berries in the freezer. If the summer days are hot (very rarely happens here, but sometimes) then I will freeze the berries and make jam in the fall or winter.
But with our cool summers days I will get busy making jam right away. The local strawberries are big and red and softly delicious - not like the hard, pale, almost tasteless ones in the grocery stores.
Wild blackberries - going into the freezer
Stacks of empty berry containers - good for crafts in the summer too.
Into the bubbling pot, with my favorite enamel spoon. No matter how long you leave it in the pot, the handle never gets hot
Raspberry and Blackberry jam
Upside down for 5 minutes - then turn right side up to seal - listen to those pings
Some peach jam in the back - we also get peaches from Eastern Washington in the summer, and I had a hankering for peach jam this year.
A new concoction - Blazberry Jam.
I had some mashed raspberries from last summer in the freezer. Thawed them out, strained them for the juice, but we don't like jelly nearly as well as we like jam. Since I had almost enough Raspberry juice for two batches, I mashed 2 cups of blackberries and added one cup to each batch of juice. Amazing jam - you can taste both berries, and yet it has a taste of its own. I'll make more of this another time, I'm sure.
Finished off a jar of peach (it was only half full) and a jar of Blazberry - both were declared a huge success.
And today I will make Cherry Preserves - from cherries that we also buy from the farm stands - they bring them over from Eastern Washington - this is a fabulous place to live - and get fruit.
And after the Cherry Preserves - Raspberry Jam - ahhhh summer!