Grandpa and Grandma are on vacation, but their beautiful garden continues to produce while they’re away. We made the trip up to their house to take advantage of the bounty. Our primary target was raspberries, but we came away with much more than that.

When Elena and I were at Science Camp, Jenny visited my parents to pick berries and learn to make jam and jelly. I probably should have learned this skill when I was young, but I wasn’t usually helpful when jelly-making time came around, and didn’t pay attention when I did help. I’m sure my parents were happy to have a willing student, because although the process does require work, it isn’t too complicated. Jenny was happy with the results and wanted to make more, and yesterday gave us a great opportunity.

First we had to pick the berries. Each of us got a bucket, and grazed through the extensive raspberry patch. Jenny worked the tops of the bushes, while I searched the lower tier. Elena picked whatever she could find, but much like the protagonist of Blueberries for Sal, more of the berries ended up in her mouth than in her bucket. It’s close to the end of the season and the bushes have been picked pretty clean, but we were able to find just enough for one full batch of jam.

Having accomplished our main goal, we looked around the garden to see what else was ripe. Some cherry tomatoes were ready, which was great. I think just-picked cherry tomatoes have an amazing taste; it’s like taking a bite of sunshine. I encouraged Elena to try one, but she spit it out as soon as she bit into it. The same thing happened with the second one she tried. Something must have clicked, though, because not long after that she started to eat them. She even started picking them herself.

We also found a few squash and zucchini, a good helping of string beans, and a few peaches from their still-young orchard. It looks like there will be plenty of produce for the rest of the summer, as the full-sized tomatoes and bumper crop of pears ripen. I think that helping with the garden and enjoying its fruits will be a staple of our visits for the rest of the summer and into the fall.

We brought the berries back to our house and made jelly in the afternoon. I was somewhat scared of this step, because I remember that my one previous jelly-making attempt ended in failure, but I trusted Jenny’s recent experience. It was surprisingly easy–mash the berries, boil them, add sugar and pectin, and seal in sterile jars. Now we have beautiful raspberry jelly that will give us a taste of summer even in the upcoming winter.


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