Foraged Berries, Foraged Jam

by Katy on July 28, 2023 · 26 comments

It’s berry picking time in Oregon and instead of schlepping out of the city to a U-pick farm, (and paying $3.50/pound) I drove 13 minutes to my secret free blackberry spot.

Am I technically allowed to pick these berries? Doubtful, as they’re on a business’ private property, but I do it in broad daylight and I think it’s my fourth year of foraging at this location. I don’t think they care and I ain’t gonna ask.

I spent maybe an hour picking berries and filled my used-to-be-a-milk-jug two and a half times, which added up to almost ten pounds. As always I got a couple superficial scratches, but not as much as previous years, as I’ve learned to wear closed-toe shoes and be slow and deliberate with my movements. It’s sweaty work, but I took precautions with sunscreen and my recently thrifted Cornhuskers baseball cap.

I got home and remembered that I had a couple boxes of clearance price pectin stashed in the pantry, so I decided to turn a third of the berries into jam.

Lovely lovely jam!

I still have two full gallon bags of berries in the freezer and will likely go picking again next week. Depending on weather and laziness.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne July 28, 2023 at 6:04 am

Berry jam, a gift directly from the gods.


Katy July 28, 2023 at 8:41 am

And I woke this morning to find that it set up perfectly! Another gift.


Mary Ann July 28, 2023 at 8:55 am

1. I bought a free trial to Max to watch “And Just Like That.” I admit to a secret pleasure to the show in the 90s. I fast forwarded through the 7 episodes as if watching a train wreck which I can keep turning back around to see. Never mind the terrible writing, non funny jokes, and wafer thin plots. The homage to consumerism is outrageous. Literally in one scene, Carrie Bradshaw tries to process her widow’s grief by buying 10,000 dollars worth of shoes. A secondary character assures her grief is really processed by a “100,000” facelift. A third character is mugged and can only bemoan the loss of a 60,000 hermes bag which is her true symbol of self care. I was hoping for models on how to age gracefully. I am the age of the characters. Nope. Cancelled the subscription. No need to punish myself. So let’s see – who doI look for for 60 year old woman trailblazers. Ideas?


Katy July 28, 2023 at 9:02 am

Oh yeah, that show is terrible.


Christine July 28, 2023 at 11:59 am

For tv series with middle aged women protagonists – not trailblazers per se but women with jobs and families – I’d recommend Happy Valley, Vera and Olive Kitteridge.


rebecca July 28, 2023 at 9:23 am

Both the berries and jam look delicious!


Katy July 28, 2023 at 10:02 am

I turned out perfectly, which is not a sure thing. I saved the foamy stuff that I skimmed off the top and had it over my oatmeal this morning. So freaking delicious!


Ecoteri July 28, 2023 at 4:14 pm

Oh, @Katy, my mom used to put that on a plate and we would have it on Toast – very very buttery, seed-rich toast. soooooo good. Now, to see if I have the spoons today to go out to MY secret blackberry patch . probably not, will do tomorrow, but stilll. Loved the milk carton idea – I use those but less open for collecting chicken eggs. I certainly can retrofit…


Kara July 28, 2023 at 9:51 am

I say yes to literally every offer of free food. I’m eating banana and cucumber provided by work right now. I take the milk home to my husband. We’ve been picking figs offered by our neighbors. My husband picked up free apricots put out at someone’s house while he was riding his bike to do a buy nothing pick up. A friend and I are scheduled to go picking on the ‘berry trail’ on Monday. Free blackberries from last year that were still in my freezer were made into jam last weekend.


Katy July 28, 2023 at 9:59 am

What do you do with the apricots? I made apricot jam a few years ago after getting a free banker box size of apricots. It turned out more syrup than jam and I just drizzle it on smoothies, but it wasn’t good enough to gift.


Sandie July 28, 2023 at 2:00 pm

My best recipe for jam is Apricot Pineapple.
My Grandmothers recipe that always gets rave reviews.


Kara July 28, 2023 at 8:24 pm

We eat very seasonally and will absolutely devour fresh fruit in season. So most of our apricots are eaten fresh. I do make apricot jam, using this recipe with no pectin

I also have a delicious cobbler recipe and I make it with a mixture of whatever fruit I have. Last week I used rhubarb (from my garden), apples left over from school lunches, plums from my tree, and a few frozen strawberries. No sugar added. Just dump all the fruit in a baking dish. For the topping mix 2 cups flour, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup white sugar, 1/8 tsp salt and 1/2 cup melted butter. Sprinkle it on top of the fruit and bake 350 about 20 minutes. My guest last week was amazed that I had used rhubarb but no sugar in the filling, but the rest of the fruit sweetened it enough.


Christine July 30, 2023 at 2:26 pm

The cobbler recipe sounds easy and delicious. I’ll try it out soon.


Ashley Bananas July 28, 2023 at 10:44 am

I went to a neighbors house where my son was doing yard work and the neighbor offered us mangoes. I declined because I’m allergic to the sap on them before they are ripe, the sap at that stage contains the same chemical as poison ivy, urischol. However, I can eat mangos when rip, and eat the inside avoiding the skin. The neighbor went inside brought our three bags of chopped and frozen mango chunks. I felt so lucky. I will use them for smoothies in the near future.


Katy July 28, 2023 at 10:56 am

That neighbor is a keeper!


Lindsey July 28, 2023 at 12:58 pm

Cleaned out our chest freezer (FINALLY!) before the Last Hurrah trip. Had lots of different berries so made mixed berry jam. Tasted great.

I accepted all free food until last year when I accept a bunch of goeducks. They are a pain to clean and to chop up for eating. I suddenly remembered why we stopped gathering them a few years ago…I will not accept any more unless I am totally out of food and am unable or do not have the money to buy food.


Christine July 30, 2023 at 2:24 pm

Lindsey, what are goeducks? Never heard of them and now I’m wondering. Thanks.


Blue Gate Farmgirl July 28, 2023 at 5:05 pm

I picked blueberries for the neighbor as I had frozen all that I need for a year of treats. He shared with me sunflower seeds.
I cleaned out my aunt’s crafty room, saved very little and organized and boxed up 8 large boxes to be donated to the local senior center.
I bought 100 lbs of sweet onions and watermelons to give as gifts in homage to my Great Uncle who used to do the same thing 30 years ago.
I picked peaches to can , freeze and eat fresh.
Eating artichokes, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, radishes, lettuce, green beans, zucchini, kohl rabi, cabbage and peppers out of the garden. I love this time of year!
I bartered 20 lbs of blackberries for 10 lbs of honey. win!
Took care of neighbor’s farm, animals, garden while they were away for family and collected eggs, veggies and strawberries that went into the local community dinner take out for those at need.


Coral Clarke July 29, 2023 at 1:27 am

Loving your generosity, from a distance! ( Brisbane, Australia


Dana July 28, 2023 at 5:26 pm

We just moved to Portland in May, and although we did do some berry picking on Sauvie Island for the experience with our 6 year old, I have my eyes out for the ripening of berry bushes on our walks.
This past few weeks my mon-consumer wins have been getting two clothes lines put up in our backyard, to take advantage of the summer weather and using our sun oven to cook multiple meals. Saves on the gas bill, and avoids heating up the house!


Jean July 28, 2023 at 5:49 pm

This morning I picked zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers , green beans and Swiss chard from our garden that is exploding with produce at the moment. I made “zoodles” out of the zucchini and summer squash to gift to friends. This evening I hoed the fresh crop of weeds that emerged after we finally got some rain and discovered more produce to pick – green peppers and cherry tomatoes. It is so nice to have fresh produce to share.


Ecoteri July 28, 2023 at 9:27 pm

Katy, thanks for the blackberry inspiration. I did find the ‘spoons’ to take a bag with a couple of big square yogurt containers (they have good lids) along with me on the short walk for the old dog. I have been eating the perfectly ripe onesy-twosy berries this last week, and today I figured that there would be enough for a proper pick. Wore my good boots, although I was in shorts and wearing my walking weight vest and wrist weights (multitasking queen that I am). Very carefully I managed to pick two half containers of PERFECT berries.
I also went to pick at our own three blueberry bushes, which seem to have a lot of berries that are sporadically ripening, so regular picking (and a good net to keep the birds off) is resulting in about 4 cups of berries every 3 days or so. By the time I get back to the house there are only 3 cups in the container, though. wonder what is happening to them? Grin
My buddy came by for a much needed conversation with me yesterday – I had received some not so great medical diagnosis, and was feeling frightened. Instead of sitting and moping I got to garden with said friend – we gleefully picked / dug many volunteer potatoes out of my raised beds (purple, red, fingerlings, yellow… a plethora that arose from missed potato harvests in the last few years). We also dug some purpose-planted potatoes. RICH, I am, in potatoes. we picked beans (yellow, green, purple, and Scarlet runner) and some English peas (not many but more on the way), a few thinning of carrots, and broccoli. Dill and cilantro.
Supper tonight was boiled new potatoes with peas and butter and dill and cilantro, steamed broccoli, steamed beans and baby carrots. On the last dregs of my first Costco rotisserie chicken (skin and bones added to my large heap of frozen stock-to-be)
All in all, a good couple of days, even with a scary diagnosis. Friends and fresh veggies and looking on the bright side…


Lindsey July 29, 2023 at 8:54 am

I am so sorry to hear about your frightening medical news; I know the feeling well. My best coping mechanism (in case you are still trying different ones on for size) is what I call the AA school of surviving. I focus only on one test, one doctor visit, one anything at a time. Otherwise I get overwhelmed and paralyzed and even more frightened. I also find someone and get their permission to be my dump partner, a friend willing to hear me go over and over and over fears and tests and results; I know that for me if I vomit the worries out enough, eventually I calm down internally. Finally, and the most important thing I discovered, was to always take someone with me to appointments and ask them to take notes and to advocate for me if I get too overwhelmed. I apologize if I am offering information you don’t want to hear because you already have experieince with this. Wishing the best for you.


Coral Clarke July 29, 2023 at 1:30 am

Wishing you lovely surprises, and better than expected medical outcomes!


Christine July 30, 2023 at 2:19 pm

DH has been foraging wild blueberries while on his hikes and I’ve been picking raspberries off the one bush I planted a few years back which has now quadrupled in size plus it sent a new shoot up about two feet away.


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