Thursday, July 10, 2014
week of jam, day three: thimblequest 2014!
Now for my absolute favorite wild berry: the thimble berry. Growing in patchy sunlight, with big fuzzy maple-like leaves, thimbleberries might be the most delicate of all the wild berries up here. They're mostly seeds and fuzz, not much juice, fall apart almost as soon as you pick them, and crush each other in whatever particular vessel they're being gathered. As a result, I can't wash these berries before I cook them (the secret's out! Are you grossed out?); if I did, I'd wash away half of the juice. So, we pick them carefully, removing all debris as we go, and then we pick through the berries again as we put them in the pan. But no water is involved.
This jam is also incredibly seedy. It's basically a seed-compote! I suppose if I really wanted to make a beautiful jelly, I could put the mix through a food mill or pass it through a sieve and make maybe one jar of perfectly smooth preserve, but I don't. It took a lot of picking to gather enough berries just to make the eight tiny 4-oz jars (every year, we call our thimbleberry picking "thimblequest," for the hours involved!) of thimbleberry jam I have tucked away in my pantry to last me through this year.
How does it taste, though? Like the brightest, tangiest raspberry you've ever had in your life. Delicious, and so worth that extra effort!