Thursday, December 20, 2012

Berries in December in Wyoming

Got back late Sunday night from the folks where I spent a few days helping them get ready to move. I brought home a passel of berries and cherries to make jelly. Where did I get berries in winter in Wyoming? In my folk's freezers of course. I emptied them as one went home with me and the other is sold. In one freezer was four gallons of chokecherries and another four bags of mystery berries along with lots of pie type cherries.

Note the chokecherries steaming in the juicer. Look how big the seeds are in this berries. Yup, means you need lots and lots and lots to make much of anything. Luckily, a chokecherry tree has lots and lots of berries on it. I'm thinking chokecherry syrup with whole wheat pancakes sounds pretty nice.
These are much better as the seeds are small. As for what they are, I had to wait until they thawed a bit to be sure but I didn't think my step-dad would of gone and picked buffalo berries.
He loves them but seldom picks on his own. Usually I initiate it. What are buffalo berries. Well, they grow wild in the West. They are little clustered berries on a tree that you'd swear was a Russian Olive. The leaves have the same look with the gray cast. There is a female tree and a male tree but no... you romantics, they don't mate for life. They do have a pretty good system worked out to discourage the gathering of their berries. They have sharp thorns.

We don't have any around our area but where Russian Olives are a plague, they grow plentiful. That's where my folks live in western Wyoming. Yeah, hard to believe for those in those areas where Russian Olives sprout up like the flu in the winter but her in eastern Wyoming, Russian Olives have to be planted. They don't propagate on their own. Trees in general don't. We have such lovely soil, NOT!

So my second guess was since there were four gallon bags of them is currants. A much much sweeter berry. The Buffalo berries are a bit bitter but make a pretty good jelly if a lot of sugar is added. They just aren't my favorite but my step-dad loves them. These were currants. 
Home came all the cherries and berries and jars and jars and jars of very old home canned goods dating back to 2000. Jars being as expensive as they are, I scarfed them up volunteering to empty them at home and put some jelly back in a few of them. Samples of course will find there way back to my folks. Monday being garbage day where the city comes and picks it up, I decided I'd better get all I could done and ready to go. It took four dishwasher loads to clean all the jars. The work spreading over into Tuesday since their was also laundry and various get back home chores needing done.

I still haven't finished unloading the truck yet from my trip. I didn't want to leave piles and piles around and have the grand kids going through them spreading them even further abroad.  

The juice has been flowing for two days while quarts and quarts of juice pile up in the fridge for a major jelly and syrup making project. I'm might leave some in juice form canning them to drink later. Would of started on it sooner but our tiny store didn't have the pink boxes of pectin that are low sugar. I've got an appointment in the next town over today so I'll pick up some then. Along with a few presents for Christmas. Can you believe I haven't a single present ready.

No money and no time being the culprits. Yup, I've got the skills and even some supplies to make wonderful gifts but no time to create. So between responsibilities of family this weekend, we are going to try and pinch in some gift making. That includes jelly and syrup. The adults are warned that their gifts could be late. Most likely will be. 

The dresses for the little girls, the fabric having been bought two months ago, well, not happening right now. I'm buying the kids a little something but the youngest, I'll add a little pair of crocheted boots, I hope. I'm on my second try. The last half made boot didn't fit. Check out The Calico Bush blog of mine and see what I'm up to with the boots but not right now, it isn't written yet, because I've got chores to do and get to the dentist. Ouch!

This weekend I'll let you peek in on what Kirk and I are scrambling to make for the count down to Christmas. Smoked turkey breast being one of the plans. Black cherry flavored oh yum!!

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