Saturday, May 19, 2012
Tastes like summer!
This morning Don and I gleefully bit into toasted English muffins spread with butter and freshly made Dewberry Jelly. It was SO delicious, I can't even begin to describe it! We both agreed that Dewberry Jelly is quite possibly our absolutely, hands down, favorite jelly of all time and that I need to make more.
While Don was on vacation last week he helped me pick dewberries along the edges of our field. In fact, he went out again and picked more so I'd have enough to make jelly. I crushed the berries, placed them in cheesecloth and hung them to drip. I got enough juice to make a batch, with a bit left over. I think I'll freeze it and save it to add to the raspberries when they get ripe.
Don was quite disappointed that all his picking efforts resulted in only three and a half pints of jelly. We like it so much that three pints (I'll probably give the half pint to his parents for Christmas) might last a month or two! Looks like we will have to go on another picking foray on Don's next off day! There are plenty of dewberries to be had, without depriving the birds.
What's the difference in dewberries and blackberries? For one, dewberries ripen before blackberries do...usually in late May around here. Dewberries grow close to the ground, unlike blackberries which send out upright "canes". The leaves are also slightly different (dewberry leaves, like blackberry leaves, can be used to make tea). The wild dewberries here in the South have much larger berries than the wild blackberries do and a slightly different taste. In fact, I prefer the taste of dewberries over blackberries.
I always strain the juice and make jelly instead of jam, since I don't like the little seeds. There's no secret recipe either...I just use the recipe in the box of pectin. Dewberry jelly is always the first jelly of the year to be made in my kitchen. Next up will be Wild Plum (if the birds and worms don't get them all), then later in the summer I'll be making Elderberry Jelly. In the early Fall I'll make Kudzu Jelly if the summer isn't to dry to prevent the kudzu from blooming and, hopefully, I can convince Don to hoist me up in the front end loader to pick wild grapes for jelly!
All this discussion of jelly is giving me the urge to have a PB&J right about now. Bon Appetit!