There is a place in Londonderry that shall remain anonymous for now. This place is unlike any other due to the fact it is loaded with one of my favorite fruits; the black raspberry. It is not a blackberry as some may refer to it that is a totally different berry. This is sweeter and less tart than its opposite; the red raspberry.
Walking our dogs over the years in different parts of Londonderry has led me to berry land heaven, here, there and everywhere. But these areas are available to anyone if you only take the time to wander a trail or two. My three favorites are blueberries, black raspberries and Concord grapes. “Stopping by the woods…” as Robert Frost began one poem. I totally agree in taking time to smell, not the coffee, but the definite ripeness of fruit in the air. I’m waiting for the grapes now.
Back to my ‘go to’ place that is an overloaded one stop black raspberry hot spot. It’s on its way to a close right now. But several weeks ago I stopped just to see if they were ripe because last year I missed it all and I said not this year. I dragged my sister for more hands to help not knowing if this would be my one time hit or miss opportunity. We finally had to force ourselves to back away as it was an endless supply. You would have to come literally every couple of days to keep picking an insane amount. One lady was leaving as we arrived with a huge bowl filled halfway. She was happy. I know it probably took an hour to pick.
Back home I did my usual pre-canning process. This involves sterilizing the jars and lids first. Boil the berries first for 20 minutes. Add a 1 to 1 sugar ratio. Boil again for 20 minutes. Skim the top of frothy yuck. Ladle into your jars right up to the top (hopefully you have enough). Pop the lids on, tighten and put aside. Over time the centers of the lids constrict and you may hear a pop, which lets you know the seal of the jar is pretty good.
20 jars later and I was now out of the fresh berries. I just needed some for my cereal, you know? I wasn’t thinking of doing a repeat blitz so I grabbed an empty mayonnaise jar from my recycling bin and headed over. There were SO MANY that had gone by. Sad. But I filled my jar with ripe ones and overloaded it because it is so hard to stop and walk away.
One thing with these particular berries is that they are the worst thorny devils out there. You need to proceed with caution and prompt them gently off the vine. Long sleeves and pants are best. Reaching is not advisable. If you ever fell…oh my.
And that’s my latest tale from the trail.
I’ll be making pesto next from my home basil collection. Made one batch already but it ain’t over ‘til it’s over! Ciao!