One of my most favorite memories is thinking back on family outings when we went berry picking. When I was very young that involved trips to my grandparents farm, and hiking to the berry patch - wild strawberries in the spring,blackberries in the summer, and finally on to blueberries on the mountain in late August. And I also recall being cautioned on those trips to the mountain to pay attention if I smelled cucumbers, because that meant a rattlesnake was somewhere close by! But the danger was well worth the splendid and sumptuous dishes that came from those outings!
Strawberry shortcake, with succulent fresh strawberries ladled generously over my Grandmother Drake's home made biscuits, and topped with real whipped cream, or if we were especially lucky, home made strawberry ice cream....oh my gosh, it makes my mouth water to remember it. Then there were blackberry tarts, blueberry pies, blueberry muffins and pancakes, and the list goes on and on.
But one of the very best things that happened as a result of those berry picking outings was sitting on a stool in my Grandmother's kitchen and watching her make homemade jam. Aaaahhhhhh......the smells emanating from that massive pot on the gas stove........sigh.........I'm transported back in time just thinking of it.
Berry season is in full swing right now here in Tennessee, so in honor of my Grandmother, and of all of the women in my family, each year I take the time to make several large batches of fresh jam. Through a 'happy accident' a few years ago when I realized I didn't have enough strawberries to finish the batch, "Very Berry Jam", a combination of strawberries and blueberries, was born.
I just finished a batch yesterday and I've already been sharing jars of jam with friends who stopped by over the holiday weekend. It makes me so happy to carry on a tradition that was a part of my family from my first memory. I hope this post inspires you to make some memories of your own.