Recipe: huckleberry jam
There is never a dull moment in summer. It feels like EVERYTHING happens at the same time! At least it felt that way last week. I suppose that’s to be expected right before a major summer holiday weekend. Or maybe it’s the heat? The heat makes me lose my mind. Luckily, I managed to up my longest distance to a 20.6 mile run on the coolest day of the week. Then I spent a good bit of time prepping food for our Fourth of July barbecue. Originally we had planned to have my parents and several of our friends up for dinner and then fireworks at our local reservoir. But our town, Nederland, has decided to stop doing its annual fireworks display this year, so everyone came over to our place and just ate a ton of food.
our natural version of a fireworks display
Kaweah was not doing well in the days leading up to the party. It worried us enough to think that this week we’d have to take her in for one last visit at the vet’s office. During the party, the loud voices and commotion stressed her out even though she was safely sequestered on another floor. After most guests had left, we brought her up to the main floor and she immediately hid in the office. I went to bed that night trying to prepare myself for the inevitable and crying into the darkness. The next day was dedicated to Kaweah. We didn’t move any furniture around or run the vacuum cleaner. We kept it quiet and calm. She snacked on raw beef and banana pupsicles and received lots of puppy massages and cuddles.
me and my pup
And what do you know? Kaweah was relaxed and happy. She was in good spirits and pretty mobile (as mobile goes for a 15.5 year old lab). Over the next two days her energy and mood were improved. Jeremy and I have been preparing ourselves for the end for so long now that we just don’t assume anything anymore. We take it one day at a time and play it by ear according to Kaweah’s needs. Emotional roller coaster? You bet it is. Kaweah has never been much of a planner, so it seems that this is all par for the course. Each day as it comes. Every day is a gift.
maybe the camera has a treat
Of course, I *am* a planner. I’ve been waiting for July to get here since last August. “Why is that?” you may ask. Because the season is fast upon us…
a porcini with a 77mm lens cap for scale
Yes, porcini season is right around the corner, but it’s not the porcini in the picture that I’m super psyched over. See all those green plants that the mushroom is nestled in? Those are huckleberry plants, and huckleberries are what I’m ALL about.
Huckleberries are the number one single most awesomest bestest berries in this whole wide world. I am obsessed with huckleberries and they are coming into season in my local mountains this month. It takes a lot of time and patience to hand-pick hucks in the wild because the plants are low to the ground and the berries are underneath the leaves. That means your quads, buttocks, and calves will get a GREAT workout. I can pick about 1 cup of hucks in one hour and it takes about 2.5-3 cups of berries to make a pound.
two pounds of hucks from last summer (frozen)
thawing out the berries
I had squirreled away the final haul of berries from last summer in my chest freezer, wringing my hands over what to make with them. Precious precious berries must not be wasted on crappy recipes. Whenever I would see Wendy in the winter, she would ask if I had done anything with the huckleberries and then scowl at me when I said I hadn’t. “Each day you don’t use them, they lose a little bit of flavor,” she admonished. She was right, of course. Whenever we opened the chest freezer to get something out or put something in, the heavenly odor of huckleberries danced into our nostrils. I finally decided on making huckleberry jam this past March.
water, lemon, huckleberries, sugar, brown sugar
zest and juice the lemon
boil the water, sugars, and lemon juice
What prompted me was Costco. Actually, it was a jar of huckleberry jam at Costco. I had never seen such a thing and my left eye got all twitchy thinking about huckleberry jam. Wendy was with me and she gave me that “I don’t know…” look. I thought $8 was worth the risk. Well, that was $8 of flavorless soulless dead huckleberry jam. I wanted REAL huck jam, so I was just going to have to make it myself.
add the berries
and the lemon zest
simmer it for 30-45 minutes
Since I had a limited amount of berries to work with, I found a recipe for making a small batch of jam. I wasn’t planning on canning the jam, it was just going to go straight into the refrigerator. The jam simmers down in under an hour and the final yield was just over 1.5 cups. My kitchen smelled intensely of huckleberries.
pour into a glass jar
The flavor of MY huckleberry jam was the real deal – a concentrated punch-in-the-face beautiful mountain summer flavor that no other berry comes close to. Tasting my foraged huck jam drove home how awful that store-bought version was. It’s a little too intense eaten straight up, but spread it on toast or stir it into oatmeal or yogurt for the full effect of huckleberry amazingness. My fingers are crossed for a great huckleberry season!
huckleberry jam, part of any kickass breakfast
the berries are little, but they pack big flavor
from this recipe
3/4 cup water
1 lemon, juice of
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups huckleberries, fresh or frozen
1 tsp lemon zest
Place the water, lemon juice, sugar, and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugars. Let it come to a steady boil. Stir in the huckleberries and the lemon zest and let the contents return to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Let simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the jam is thickened, pour it into a clean jar and let cool. Store in the refrigerator for several months. Makes about 1 1/2 to 2 cups.
more goodness from the use real butter archives
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