Are We Walking to Alaska

Are We Walking to Alaska
Are We Walking to Alaska - A True Story

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Photo Heart Connection

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!


Kathryn Dyche said...

Wow, those berries look so delicious as does that jam. Someone's been crazy busy. Wish we had somewhere like that near us.

Jeanne said...

I'm drooling!
we get great strawberries and blueberries in June but the harvest drops off after July. Funny, I have a similar post ready to publish.

Anonymous said...

I never knew berries were cultivated that way. I love that first photo, the rhythm of all those curving vines; and the one of the summer-green, undulating rows; and that old building disappearing under moss and vines. Fascinating post! Visiting from PHC.

Kay said...

I love this post! I've not gone to our local berry farm in winter, so I haven't seen the raspberry vines up close like this. (It explains some I've seen in a distance. Thanks.) Berries are one of the highlights of summer for me. I've been freezing them - starting with strawberries. Hubby the diabetic needs to avoid sugar so I just freeze the fresh ones. They're so good we don't even need to make them into anything (though a little cobbler would sure be nice). The blackberries around here haven't quite ripened yet. . .soon!

greenthumb said...

I have never Raspberrys grown like that, so much lovely fresh fruit, I would be in heaven. I never knew that you turned your jam jars of 5mins thanks for the tip.

J said...

I cannot decide if you live in an area of the country that is unusually blessed with nature or if you are just a person who is far more attentive to the beauty of your surroundings than most of us. (The latter, I think!) Yesterday I learned about the eagle perches - today it's the raspberry farming technique! Beautiful photos!
I have begun the practice of praying for the person whose hands picked the fruit I wash at my sink. Your post has brought me right into the fields with those hard working souls. God bless them!

Pondside said...

We both live in wonderful areas for berries! I am watching our blackberries, but they aren't yet ready to pick. Pies and jam....mmmmm!

Mary said...

Oh my goodness JoAnn! What a luscious post. These are pictures to savor. Oh the sweet juiciness! I love that berries are so abundant in the Pacific Northwest too. What a treasure trove! :)

Dave said...

Those berries look so delicious, our raspberries did not produce anything this year. That is an interesting way to grow the berries. Do you train the new spring green growth into the hoops or does it stick out? I would be interestes in trying this.

Pamela Gordon said...

JoAnne, those raspberry canes sure look different all tied together like that. And to see them in leaf is amazing. So pretty. We saw and picked some wild blackberries along the roads when we were in Chilliwack. They are everywhere right now. I wish I could have made some jam with them. I'm missing raspberry season back home. :( Hopefully I'll get some blueberries when we return. Beautiful photos!

Kat Sloma said...

This is a wonderful story - from start to finish with the berries! Which image is your Photo-Heart Connection for the month?

Unknown said...

My mouth was watering reading this post. I love berries! what an abundance of them you have in your area!!!!

Karen @ Beatrice Euphemie said...

Oh, yummy yum! Pure deliciousness going on in your kitchen, JoAnn! I love the photos of the raspberry fields! And don't I know about blackberries wanting to devour the house! A major chore every year for us! I can just picture you with jam staining your lips now! I think I would be eating it morning, noon and night! Hugs, xo

Em Parkinson said...

What amazing photos of simple berries. I've never seen the canes arched over like then, but then this isn't berry country really. Lovely to have found you and thanks for visiting my blog. Will put you on my sidebar!

Vee said...

Such bounty! Loved seeing the highly stylized berry fields...wish that we did something like that here as I am certain it would make fir easier picking. We just don't eat berries the way folks once did. Your berry bowls set is very charming.

Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow said...

You have been a busy jam maker and I am astounded at those fields and the treatment of the vines!