On Saturday, I went with friends out to our blackberry spot. Quite frankly, it was not easy picking. Either you had to clamor into the brambles in the shade, or they were easier to pick but in the blazing sun. But, after 3 hours (ish?) of picking, I had 32 cups of blackberries.
Yes, 32 cups. That's around 16 pounds. Really.
I was too tired to start working on jam Saturday night, so I decided to do it Sunday night. Waiting 24 hours is usually NO problem. Besides, I wanted to get the half-jam jars (the small small jars) so we could give lots away to coworkers and such for the holidays.
I drained the juice out of the bottom and plopped a god-awful amount of sugar on the juice to get it mixed up before cleaning the berries of weed seeds, berry leaves, etc.
Then I smelled it: fermenting.
I looked closer. The berries were not fermenting because of age. There were small worms. My guess? Fruit fly larvae. I think the warmth of the day, combined with the warmth of sitting for 24 hours and having a great food-rich environment, combined with likely having a berry or two with eggs resulted in this. I've been picking blackberries for almost 30 years and never had this happen.
I had brief ridiculous thoughts of picking them out, but no, that wasn't going to happen. And if I didn't wish to eat the jam, I sure as heck wasn't going to give it away.
So, almost 20 lbs of blackberries, wasted. Arms scratched up for nothing. Deep thorn in my knuckle (which hurt for the last two days) for naught.
What to do? Blackberries are the best crop for jams and whatnot... because they're free. I can make applesauce rather cheaply too, but those can't be in half-jam or jam jars because that's a ridiculous portion size for applesauce. So you have to make more applesauce to give it away to the same amount of people. Which, I don't mind doing, but. Plus, I had a lot of blackberry jam requests from people who don't make jam.
I think I'll just make 4-5 batches of jam, but in smaller quantities. At least, that's what I'm thinking right now when I'm not quite so dejected.