I'd read that native americans in the pac nw harvested salal berries and dried them in massive cakes (like 10-15lbs. per cake) for a winter foodstuff. Why, I wondered, did no one seem to eat them today, if they are so abundant? (And believe me, they are EVERYWHERE, with plump berries unpicked!).
Well, I learned that part of the reason may be the sticky experience of picking them. They are covered in a kind of gummy coating that stays on your hands after picking, even through scrubbing with soap and water. I finally resorted to my pumice stone in order to get that crud off my hands!!
Next, the rinsing is difficult, for the same reason - that stuff is STUCK. ON. So I washed them, but decided to go ahead and make a strained jelly rather than a jam, as I figured I'd be hours getting all those berries perfectly clean - why not just boil and strain?
so I did just that. Put the moderately-cleaned salal berries in with a bit of water and boiled them awhile. Strained through cheesecloth. Isn't this shot great? Just another Saturday night at home, squeezing what looks like an organ through a sieve. =)
my, I'm getting brown - my own plains indian heritage showing through... a little sun this summer, as we're headed to the deserts of utah for some biking in september and I'll need the extra protection (plus spf 50+) on the trails there...
I ended up adding pectin because despite all these so-called high-pectin berries, I never seem to get them to gel properly without a bit of the boxed stuff. Ah, well. Added a bit of sugar, a bit of pectin, a bit of lemon juice, cooked until thickened (maybe? Still seems kinda thin to me). About 3-4 cups of berries yielded these tiny 4-oz jars. That's it.
We'll just have to go pick more, sticky fingers and all!