Our three haskap berry bushes have produced abundantly this year. And a few days ago, our resident robins were the first to alert us that the berries were ripe.
We checked the bushes out and sure enough, although there were still a few green berries to be found, several ripe ones had already dropped from the bushes to the ground.
Time to harvest.
The bushes are growing by leaps and bounds and we're wondering just how tall they will get. Especially the Berry Smart Blue variety in the center.
The foliage looks very healthy and thick.
The berries a bit harder to pick than blueberries because the fruit grows on the underside of the heavily leaf-laden branches.
Over a two day period (last Thursday and yesterday -- thanks to Chicken Mama for her help in finishing up the task), we picked 98% of the ripe berries from the three bushes and left any that might still ripen for the birds.
Yesterday I processed them by first cleaning them . . .
. . . and then measuring out the amount I needed for making our haskap berry syrup.
The above bowlful (a 6-quart bowl) is about a third of the total we harvested.
You may remember that in the past my attempts to make haskap berry jam following my blueberry jam recipe have failed and we've ended up with haskap berry syrup. This has actually worked out just fine because we've used a small dribble of the syrup in our daily small dish of probiotics (yogurt/kefir mixture) and as syrup on pancakes, French toast and waffles. We've been out of the last I made for a couple of months so I was eager to have more.
I made two and two-thirds batches yesterday (can you say hot and steamy kitchen?) and ended up with 10 pints and 2 half-pint jars.
There was a partial jar leftover that I put into the refrigerator for us to sample.
This morning I made French toast for breakfast looking forward to having and tasting the haskap berry syrup from that partial jar.
Can you guess what I'm going to say next?
We now have 10 pints and 2 half-pint jars of lovely, haskap berry JAM.
Why? Why did I get jam this time when always before using the same recipe the consistency has been syrup? I don't use any pectin in my jams so perhaps did the berries this year have more natural pectin in them? Are the berries changing somehow as the bushes mature? Are our haskap growing adventures going to drive me crazy?
Scratching my head I may be, but the jam is yummy. It's full of antioxidants and who knows what other things that are good for us. (I know it doesn't have too much sugar in it. If only I had been able to make a video of our daughter's facial expressions when I asked her to sample it yesterday before it was refrigerated and set up! I asked if it tasted too sweet to her. I'll just say it did not, and let it go at that.)
So what will happen next season when I attempt making jam with those persnickety blue/black, nutrition-filled, prolific berries. Darned if I know.
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