Friday, September 16, 2011

The 2011 Blackberry Convulsion!

Yes, time to haul out and pick all we need for the year - or can stand to process.  We're after the non-native Himalyas, cuz we need the juice for the wine.  So we take along the loppers, and are merciless, pounding down the hard-spreading commercial variety, and giving trees and native berries a better chance.  Yes, going after non-natives gives us a chance to exercise the human greed-head gene while assisting the natives.  Might as well use it and work it out.  The whole process will take three days.

Day 1:  Picking.

Himalyas in the bucket - non-native, so can pick our brains out.  So to speak.
It takes only a few minutes to fill a bucket.  The Himalayas hang on the vine so thickly, and get as big as a man's thumb.  We have no scruples about taking loppers to the new-growth vines, which can be two inches across, with thorns that could puncture a tire.  Besides that, it helps the bears get in later, when they come back for their feed.  Lots of black-bear berry scat and plowed areas of vines show where they've been working.  We figure we might as well return the favor, and open up new-ripening masses of berries for them.  They can probably do it themselves, but isn't it nice to know somebody's been thoughtful enough to do it for you?  Less work and annoyance, more hibernating fat.

Dan done picking, taking his first chance to gobble blackberries like the bears.
 We don't eat while we're picking -- keeps us working hard.  Then it's time for the Great Blackberry Gorge! Nom nom nom.

A cooler full of blackberries -- about fifty pounds. 
Day 2: Winemaking.

Berries all squashed and strained, first steps in wine-making.

Rich and light versions in my bathroom, caps on lightly to allow bubbling gas to escape. The lighter jugs one the right have less juice, for a milder, more refreshing flavor.  The ones on the left will be luscious.  We even had enough fresh juice left over to pour into a bottle of red wine - scrumptious!
Day 3: Canning.
Final canning of leftover mash.  Cobblers, pies for weeks!
The trick to making Himalayas taste like wild ones - add a little lemon-juice and freshly-grated nutmeg.  The wine-squeezing gets rid of the excess juice that makes the jam too runny.  Yes, if we had a tribe with us, we could process enough for winter.  As it is, we hope this takes us through Christmas!  Whew; all done until next year.

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