The warm summer breeze rustles the mass of blueberry bushes. The lanky branches sway and the berries dance playfully, like toddlers impishly attempting to escape the embrace of a parent. It is a game. Who can be more nimble, who can stay just out of reach? In the end, we know it is inevitable we will collide and collapse in an unruly pile of hugs and giggles.
It is what I like to call Blueberry Jam Day, that one day in July when the sun is just right, and the blueberries are that perfect shade of ebony blue. I head out early to Patty’s Berries and Bunches on the North Fork of Long Island with basket in tow. My goal is to collect enough berries for jam and baking to last me well into the winter.
Patty’s blueberries are planted in long corridors that seem to stretch on for an eternity. I’m told the best options for picking will be well into the field so I head deep into the heart of blueberry world, with only the palpable whisper of the breeze, the cotton candy clouds, the swishing of the branches, and the chirping of a red wing blackbird to keep me company.
It is a game of skill, attempting to grab these blueberries that hope to elude capture.
But, I am the blueberry catcher, and within time, I am victorious, with a mountain of blue orbs in hand. Immediately, I return to the kitchen to begin jamming.
It is such a satisfying thing, capturing that thrilling moment in the field within a quilted glass jar. The sugar, lemon juice and pectin are added and the berries simmer and pop and transform into thick purple syrup.
Now you can actually taste the sun, the breeze, the sound of the birds and the excitement of the chase.
Slathered on a warm muffin or piping hot slice of toast, my North Fork Blueberry Jam can evoke smiles, giggles and delicious memories of catching blueberries for some time to come.
©2014 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved