Grandma said that a ripe raspberry would fall into your hand without too much tugging on it. If it didn’t pull off easily, it wasn’t ripe for the picking. Ripe berries also need to be a deep red color. If they are still a pinky-orange color, they aren’t ripe yet. Grandma and I had one thing in common: she liked to pick them when they were a deep red color and I liked to eat them when they were a deep red color. She also told me that the really good berries were in the middle of the bush and to move the prickly branches and find the hidden berries. I remember my arms getting scratched up, but it was worth a few scratches to get the best berries.
As I got older, I did less eating and did more picking to help grandma sell her beautiful raspberries at her fruit and vegetable stand in front of her house. She had people come from near and far, year-after-year, just to buy her delicious raspberries, cantaloupes, tomatoes, peppers and all the other vegetables that she grew in her garden. Those were the good old days when life was simple and picking raspberries without getting scratched was the least of my worries.
In mid-September my neighbor, Jane, invited me to join her to go raspberry picking. As an adult, I’d never picked raspberries. I’d never even been to a raspberry farm. It all seemed more like work than fun to me. It was fun picking raspberries with grandma, but would it be fun now?We arrived at Symanzik’s Berry Farm in Goodrich, Michigan on a beautiful, sunny morning. We checked in, got our bucket, tied it around our waist, and walked to the row we were assigned. What fun! It wasn’t work at all. I practically whistled while I worked because all I could think about was the beautiful jam I was going to make. I didn’t have a clue how to make jam, but these berries were going to morph into jam come hell or high water! Picking those raspberries brought back fond memories of my time with Grandma in her raspberry patch and I can say for certain that picking raspberries on that sunny September morning was one of the best days I’ve had this year!
*Even though this is not a dessert, I used the raspberry jam I made in the center of the PB&J Honey Roasted Peanut Cookie recipe. Below I’ve included the raspberry jam recipe. It’s easy to make and very, very delicious! Just ask Jane, she has dipped pecan tassies in it and slathered it all over cheesecake! That girl knows how to multitask her food!
4 cups mashed raspberries
4 cups sugar
Use a very large pot to sterilize jam jars and lids.
Place berries in large dutch oven and cook until the berries reach a full rolling boil. Berries will double in volume.
Boil 2 minutes.
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, boil for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Beat with rotary beater for 4 minutes
Pour in sterilized jars and seal.