Saturday, 28 June 2014

Mulberry jam

This spring, I discovered that I have at least 5 mulberry trees in my yard. I never really knew what mulberries were and basically only knew them from the children's tune. As I've been discovering what is growing in our new yard, I learned that those berries on those trees are mulberry.

I did try a couple fresh from the tree, but I wasn't all that excited. Recently, I've heard from friends that they've made mulberry jam. I figured, what the heck, I might as well try that.

I've been collecting mulberries over the last week or so (with several days being away from work). I figured today I had enough berries so I gave it a shot. It turns out that I probably have enough for another batch in my freezer.

Today I collected over 3 cups of berries. I've only been half heartedly collecting them. I pick what I can reach and am not really worried about getting them all. I've heard of shaking the trees with sheets under the trees to catch the berries, but that seems very wasteful. Less than half of what falls is ripe.

Today's collection of just over 3 cups of mulberries.

My friends told me that they didn't take the stems off of the berries. I'm glad to hear that as it doesn't seem easy. I put the berries in the food processor and the stems basically disappear. From the more than 3 cups of berries, I got about 1.5 cups of berry purée.

I followed this recipe:

It was very easy, which is good as this was my first attempt at jam.

My setup. The canning bath on the left. The berries cooking (before sugar added) on the right and the small pan with the lids for the jars warming.
The jam in jars

One of the nice bits about the "skim off foam" part was that it gives you the opportunity to taste the jam. It was quite good!

I have enough for another batch, which I'll definitely be doing once I buy more sugar (6 cups of sugar in a batch!) and pectin. There are still lots of berries in the tree that have yet to ripen, so I'll be picking more. I need to see if the girls like it. If they do, I'll be using this for their PB&Js. I will look to see if I can find other recipes that call for less sugar.  If I do, I'll try that and see how it tastes.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Michelle makes a sweater

I finished spinning the first 8 oz of orange yarn.
It makes a pretty single.

I 2 plied and Navajo (3) plied a bit so I could figure out the wraps per inch. I came up with 12.3 wpi for the 3 ply and 14 wpi for the 2 ply. The 3 ply is a better size, I think and frankly it looks better.

I've started 3 plying (not Navajo) the orange. Sadly my bobbins for my wheel aren't all that big. I fit just over 8 oz on 3 bobbins. That means I'll need 3 bobbins to get it all plied... or ply it a bobbin at a time so I can then get it off of the bobbin so I can do more. ETA, I have now filled the bobbin twice with plied yarn.

In garden news, I emailed my Father-in-law asking about a saw for cutting branches high. He called me back and ended up coming over on Sunday and we cut back a couple lilacs, a burning bush and piled it all in the thistle garden in the front yard. It will take a couple months to get it all to fit in the bins for the city to collect.

Lilac before.
Lilac after.

I still need to cut back the spirea. There is the one large one in the back corner of the yard. I also found that there are about 4 others that were planted either side of the two lilacs that are along the back fence. They were quite shaded by the lilacs and other bushes in the back. The lilacs haven't been cut back in a long time. My FIL commented that he hadn't seen a burning bush as large as the one in our back yard. I cut that back because it was shading another lilac. I may cut it back more, but my main goal was to get it away from the lilac some.

That same lilac has a mulberry tree growing amongst it. It's big enough to have berries. For now I'm going to leave it there. We managed to clear some of the other brush from around it, so I think it will do better. I discovered that two other trees in my yard are mulberry of a decent size. I hope to make jam.

That above was written a few days ago. Today I cut back the spirea  and the final forsythia. I'll try to get up before and after pictures soon.