Saturday, July 29, 2017


The salal is ripening.

Salal, Gaultheria shallon, Oyster Bay Shoreline Park, dunes.

The berries, when they are fully ripe, will be a deep purple. A few have just about reached that stage; I ate a handful. They were juicy and sweet, but still hadn't developed the full super-grape flavour.

These make wonderful jelly, but most wild foragers ignore them, finding them too much bother. The berries, when ripe, are mushy; they cling tightly to their branches, so that releasing even one leaves you with stained purple fingers. The skin of the berry is slightly prickly, and is often all that's left after the juicy innards spread all over your hand. And the stems are covered with a glue-like sap.

My mom made jelly, anyhow. She harvested the berries, sticky branches and all; no messy fingers, no painstaking separating stems from fruit. In next to no time, she would have a big bucket full, enough to stuff her canning pot at home. She boiled the whole shebang until it disintegrated, then strained the juice overnight.

(She had a white [formerly, anyhow] pillowcase that she hung with one corner down from a pole across the backs of two kitchen chairs. The salal mess went into the pillowcase, and dripped into a clean bowl underneath. One of those cone apple-sauce strainers, lined with cloth, would do the same job, I think.)

Then, all there was to do was to measure the clear juice, add sugar, and boil to the jelly stage. No need to add pectin; the stems have enough.

Super-grape jelly! On toast! Nothing better.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful photo and very interesting account of how your mother made jelly without removing the stems!


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