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It’s a berry good summer

August 6, 2009

Grapevine Cottage -- for sale -- Concord, Massachusetts

Someone left a comment on a recent post about how, as a society, preserving just isn’t our thing.  And while she started off talking about buildings, she cleverly noted that people also don’t “preserve” — as in filling jars with summer’s ripe bounties.  But maybe that’s changing.  She shared that National Public Radio did a recent feature on the subject (which you may find here, if so motivated) — it seems classes in preserves and canning are full and sales of jars and lids are up 30%.  Who knew blackberries could be part of a stimulus package?

I had my own local proof of the trend at a party in a beautiful flower garden behind a house in one of the city’s historic districts.  A friend and colleague (who most certainly believes in preservation) shared that she has recently discovered the joys of making her own concoctions, and I got to see the jewel-toned jars myself in the hostess gift basket she’d brought.

Is preservation a good, old-fashioned value?  Is preservation a terrific way to act “green” and respect the earth?  Am I talking about old buildings or tasty treats for your pantry shelves?  Both actually.

Here’s to preservation, and the joys of summer, and fireflies, and grandmother’s garden, and summer roadtrips to see old buildings.

I’ve turned to Preserving Today, by Jeanne Lesem for a recipe to share.  And, as I turned the pages to find a nice recipe for you, it turns out that Ms. Leesem has an appreciation for the  other kind of preserving too:

Ephraim Bull tames a wild grape

Ephraim Wales Bull’s home in Concord, Massachusetts, is called Grapevine Cottage in recognition of his role in developing a grape hardy enough to survive New England’s severe winters.  Bull named his hybrid the Concord grape and sold seedlings throughout the country.  He cultivated America’s best-known native grape from a wild vine that grew on his own land.  “Mr. Bull’s important contribution brought him fame, but little money,” Imogene Wolcott wrote in The Yankee Cook Book (1963 edition), “On the bronze tablet over his grave in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord are the words “He sowed — others reaped.” 

Poking around the internet, it appears that Grapevine Cottage is for sale, price reduced.  Preserve now!

My dad’s blackberry bushes are burdened with ripening fruit.  While on vacation, we ate berries until our fingers were purple.  If you have access to blackberries, try this.  (There’s a microwave version too.)


Blackberry Jam – makes 1 1/2 cups

1 pint basket blackberries, about 2 cups

4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup sugar

Mash berries with potato masher or pastry blender in a 2 1/2 quart saucepan.  Bring to boil over high heat, and boil rapidly 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, and stir in lemon juice.  Either freeze in a tightly covered container to use later or add the sugar, and boil rapidly until gel tests done.  Pack in hot, sterilized jars, seal, invert for 5 minutes, then set upright to cool.  Label and refrigerate unless you plan to use it within 1 or 2 weeks.

How easy is that?  Everyone should be preserving!

berry 2

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