The message on the answering machine of Pungo Blueberries, said “blackberries are plentiful”. We were in the car by 7AM, hoping it wasn’t an old message.
It wasn’t. The blackberries were everywhere. They were ripe and they were sweet.
There were grey clouds on the horizon. It had been that way all week but the rain had been intermittent, so we didn’t give it much thought. Then there were rumblings of thunder. We pretended we didn’t hear it and kept picking. We ignored the first lightning strike but the second one sent us to the car.
It was a hike and it was raining big fat buckets of rain. It was the kind of rain where it makes no sense to run because it’s coming down so hard and so fast, you’re soaked through in the first 3o seconds. It was raining so hard, the tailgate became a bowl. When we shut it, we got a bath. We sat in the car and waited. As soon as the thunder and lightning stopped, we went back out. We had each picked about half a pail when the rain started again. We decided to go back to the car. We took a couple of steps in that direction. But we just kept picking, in the rain, in our soaking wet clothes. We just kept picking.
Once the pails were full, we headed back. It’s a family farm so the whole family was working-blackberry season is only three weeks long. They were anticipating a big crowd. It was all hands on deck-grandmother, her daughters and their children, all working. We weren’t the only ones who picked on in the deluge. Most of the pickers were under the overhang of the stand where you pay for what you picked. We were a sight. Clothes sopping wet, stained with blackberry juice, sneakers caked in muck. As we looked around, we couldn’t help but think the teenage grandsons of the matriarch of the farm would probably have nightmares about the inadvertent wet t-shirt contest they were privy to this day.
As soon as we paid for our 21 pounds of blackberries, the sun came out. We thought about picking one more box, but one would have led to another and 21 pounds might end up being more than we think. If not, there’s always next week.
CANNED BLACKBERRIES IN EXTRA LIGHT SYRUP:
We canned 20 pints of blackberries and froze 20 cups.
EXTRA LIGHT SYRUP:
- 1 cup organic sugar
- 4 cups water
Bring sugar and water to a boil in saucepan. Stir for 5 minutes.
Add 1/2 cup syrup to hot pint jars. Fill with blackberries. Top with syrup, leaving 1/2″ headspace.
Process in hot water canner for 15 minutes.
We were amazed at how delicious these berries were when we opened them last winter. We’ve used them as a topping for ice cream, with a limoncello marscapone cream, right out of the jar, and used the syrup in cocktails or sparkling water.