This past weekend, I picked my final wild berries of the year. For me, that is the true end of summer. This year, I’m going to harvest wild rose hips which will take my foraging into fall, but it’s still not the same as hours spent in the hot sun, berry juice staining my hands, my back protesting the constant bending, the thorns and barbs dragging across my skin, and the sounds of summer singing around me.
The beginning of fall means that get to start the canning process, which is one of my very, very favorite things, but I still mourn the days spent deep in the woods, with nothing but nature around me.
This year was a crazy berry year – we had close to record cold temperatures this winter (30 below actual temp and 60 below windchill!!), a fair drought to start the spring, and then boatloads of rain for the following month or so. For some reason, that erratic weather led to some of the best berries I’ve ever seen!
Wild blackberries have been nonexistent since we bought the homestead two and a half years ago, and this year I plucked 4 1/2 gallons with ease with plenty to spare for the birds. Wild blueberries were slightly late but are still around, even as we head into September (far later than usual). And wild raspberries are so abundant you could never pluck them all.
My haul for the year:
Wild blackberries: 4.5 gallons
Wild raspberries: 3 gallons
Wild blueberries: 3 gallons
Wild chokecherries (I know, not a berry): 4 gallons
I also picked 1 gallon each of cultivated raspberries and blueberries. I didn’t get a chance to pick strawberries but thankfully my family did (and are willing to share!).
Starting to plan the canning season is definitely helping me get over my summer grieving. I plan to make basic jellies and jams (just one berry) as well as bumbleberry (mixed berry), dark chocolate raspberry, and for the first time, bourbon vanilla blackberry. I’m also planning out a few other unusual recipes, but I’m not sure where I’ll land yet. If you have a recipe you love, I’d love to have you drop it in the comments!
My plans also include wild blackberry brandy as well as wild raspberry and blackberry cordials. I’m also going to try to make fruit leather for the first time.
In addition to all of that, I’ll be making and canning apple sauce and apple butter, and as mentioned above I’ll be canning rose hip jelly. And, of course, crips and pies.
Whew! I have a busy time ahead of me! I have a few more vacation days available so I plan to take an extended weekend sometime in October to get through a lot of this.
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