berry season hits the willamette valley

What a stupid headline.  With what, a squish?  But that’s all I’ve got today.  So here, take someone else’s offering:

This gorgeous, gorgeous shot of Russian peasant girls presenting berries, so gorgeous I’ve been saving it for you since a friend of mine posted a link to the set on Facebook, is from a turn-of-the-20th-century Russian photographer who chronicled Russian life via train.  Check out the entire, remarkable set by clicking the picture, which links to the Denver Post gallery of the collection of the Library of Congress.

As for me, I’ve been dodging rotten berry bombs from various administrative unpleasantness as I prepare for my next trip to Zurich and London.  I’ll be studying sex in London and food in Zurich.  I don’t do well with unanticipated changes of plans and uprootings, and there have been plenty this week.

To stay calm, I’ve been jamming.  It’s no secret in preservation circles that we seal up things in jars and stick them in cupboards to try to halt the natural progression of life into decay and keep something perfect, just the way it is, for longer than life would allow.  That’s what berry jam does for the fleeting, rich, green moment of July.

Check out the size of these beauties.  Tayberries are elongated, maroon blackberry crosses, with quite a bit of raspberry in them.  I wrote about what they are here last year.

It’s tayberry season now for the next week or so.  Their reputation is beginning to spread in the Willamette Valley, but not many growers cultivate them.  Why?  After putting in my own tayberry last year, I discovered the reason.

This is why people don’t grow more tayberries.  The thorns are thick, soft, and sensitive, running up the vines all the way to the leaf tips.  They stick to everything and anything.  Most cultivated raspberries have more manageable thorns.  Some don’t even have thorns of note.  But tayberries don’t hold back in thorniness.

But bought, tayberries are the best berry around.  Check out Lelo’s post with a berry comparison (I’m the comment by “Eugeniq,” a rather nice typo if I do say so myself).  Anyway, besides the Crème de Violette version I mentioned in the comment, I’ve had some fun with tayberries this year.  My 2010 jam series is a platonic pair: Old Bachelor and Old Spinster tayberry jams.

Old Bachelor tayberry jam is soused with my Old Bachelor liqueur, put up last year with booze, sugar, and mixed cane berries and cherries.  The recipe is inspired by Christine Ferber’s discussion of this old French cordial in her book, Mes Confitures.  The essence of summer.

And then, inspired suchly, I had to make Old Spinster tayberry jam to go with it.  Old Spinster has a handful of rhubarb thrown in to add some bitterness, and a single fragrant rose geranium leaf pressed in to the top of the jam before canning.  (This is the leftover jar):

I think that’s right, no?  Old Bachelor fragrant with liquor and red candy; Old Spinster complicated by rhubarb and rose.

I didn’t get a chance to make my Old Crazy Cat Lady with cat hair and Danish salmiak licorice Tyrisk Peber granules, with a dash of absinthe.  But the thought was there, believe me.

What are you doing to doll up  your plain cane berry jams?

3 thoughts on “berry season hits the willamette valley

  1. Lelo 13 July 2010 / 12:13 pm

    I love your jams so much it hurts. Genius=Eugenia.


  2. Kate 13 July 2010 / 1:00 pm

    These photos are so awesome. Thanks much!


  3. Pingback: Culinaria Eugenius

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