Today I took the day off work and went to pick huckleberries with a friend and the friend's sister. I hadn't met the sister before but it was fun! And there was some adventure as the seatbelts were not available during the drive. Oh well. If I'm going to die for something it might as well be something delicious. We were all in the front seat of a big pickup and we're not small ladies. You bond with people when your are inadvertently body slamming them as you bounce over ruts. You also bond when you realize that you didn't wear appropriate foundation garments and you're just going to have to manual hold the girls down for the ride.
Anyway, we went up Cherry Creek, outside Saint Maries. It was lovely. My officemate had given us directions and stopped by to have lunch with us...at 10:30.
I was told to be ready at 6:30am to leave. They were early! Which is good. But it meant I forgot a couple of things like lunch and toilet paper. Fortunately the friend had toilet paper. Even more fortunately there was a fortuitously situated log with a view of mountains and a nice breeze. Soon there were two fortuitously situated logs (sorry...I had to do it).
I was the most mobile person as the other two have replaced knees. 6 legs and only 2 original knees on the trip! They get around fine, but you don't want to fall down on the knees if you can help it. I told them that if they did fall, make sure it was up a hill that I could back the truck up to and just roll them into the bed. That or we'd just tie them to a bumper and tell the game warden we had a doe tag.
We actually ran into another Tribe employee up there. He is with forestry but said he was out checking huckleberry permits. (a joke...you pick them for free). I bribed him with one huckleberry.
We picked for a few hours with plenty of breaks. Then into St. Maries (pronounced "Saint Mary's") for treats at a cafe. Tragically, the only pies available were cream based!! I don't do the dairy so I got curly fries and iced tea. Still good. The other two had pie and a banana split. Looked delicious.
THEN we toured a park area and finally headed home. It was a lovely day out.
I got home at about 4 or so and set to work on the berries. I had WAY more than I thought. I figured I had about 4 cups and might be able to stretch them into a batch of jam (need 6 and a half cups per batch for the low sugar stuff). Turns out I had enough for TWO batches of jam. Yeay!! I was only going to do one batch and dry the rest and then I just went ahead since it was already hot and the jars were clean and did the second batch. It's easier to to lots in series than to start again another day. I didn't have the pectin I like for the second batch so we'll see if using the sure-jel recipe with ball pectin works out. Either way, it will be delicious. The worst case scenario is one batch of jam and one batch of huckleberry sauce.
If I get more this year I would like to try some spiced huckleberries. They would be spectacular with smoked salmon.
By the time I finished the jam it was after 6pm. That's pretty much 12 hours of effort and socializing for jam. Well worth it.