Adventures in berry picking

As much as I have been lamenting the end of summer since about the middle of August, it seems to be doing its level best to hang on around these parts. So much so, in fact, that the kids and I went raspberry picking with some friends in the last week of September. My good friend Tanya is one of those amazing people who not only cooks really delicious, natural food with fresh, clean ingredients, but also grows a lot of her own produce. And what she doesn't grow herself, she will pick, be it mushrooms in the mountains or fruit from pick-your-own farms. Fact: I want to be like her when I grow up.

The only thing better than a new place to explore, is a new place to explore that grows tasty berries.

 So even though I had never actually been to a fruit farm to pick my own fruit (we grew our own when I was growing up in Norway), when Tanya invited us to join her and her son on a berry picking expedition, I jumped at the chance. My kids are absolute berry fiends, and I like any opportunity to get them out of the house so they can breathe fresh air and run around. And run around they did! Espen and his good friend, Sam, picked about half a tub of raspberries which they snarfled as quickly as they could, and Gwen happily tromped around with her own little tub, picking a berry here and eating a berry there as she went. 

Espen may have sampled a berry or two. 

Because it was so late in the season and in the middle of a weekday, we were the only ones there, which was pretty nice. It gave the kids a lot of freedom to roam without getting in anyone's way, and let's be honest, gave us a lot of the same! It was nice to just hop from row to row, getting the best and juiciest berries without encroaching on other pickers' territory. And for a country girl like me, it was nice to get out of the suburbs and into the open to breathe some real air. Oh, it was the perfect way to spend a couple of hours, just picking and chatting in the sunshine.

See? Tanya even comes complete with adorable wooden baskets for picking in. 

 I didn't really head out with any huge ambitions for what I wanted to do with my berries, but seeing as I ended up with more than my family could really expect to just eat, I bit the bullet and decided to make jam. Seeing as I don't really have any proper canning gear (I know, what kind of Mormon housewife am I?) I thought I'd try my hand at freezer jam. I consulted with another friend who is some sort of food preserving genius, and she patted me on the head and sent me off with a box of her favorite pectin and her reassurances that I could do it. And it turns out that I could! Freezer jam, is little more than washing, mashing and bringing fruit, sugar and pectin to a boil, and I even I can manage that. I didn't quite have enough raspberries, so winged it and threw in a cup of the blackberries I had picked the same day. The result was crazy delicious! I gave away one jar, and we've already eaten most of one, but there are still six little jars all lined up in the freezer as a testament to my occasional domestic divinity, and as a remembrance of the lovely day we spent at the farm with good friends.

My jam haul - minus the one I gave to the friend who watched Espen while I made jam. I'm bringing bartering back! 


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