In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Wild raspberry syrup

Wild raspberries ripen all over the island in August.  You can find them anywhere, glowing like amethysts along the side of the road or off in an old field.  There are some patches that are particularly dense and bear especially sweet fruit.  But I can't tell you where those patches are, because where we pick our raspberries is a secret. 

The families who have camps on the island each have their own special place to pick and they’re not telling anybody else where it is. It works out well because everybody is convinced that they have found the best place. So there is no coveting of thy neighbours' raspberries.  It's almost idyllic in that way, as long as you don't trespass on anybody else's patch, which you wouldn't know you had done, since these claims are secret.  

Other claims are staked openly. The mosquitoes are fierce protectors of their turf, and so are various little flies and worms and bees. It's easy to reach beneath a cluster of leaves for a perfect berry only to see, just in time, that a bumblebee has gotten there first.  But in the end there are enough for us all. 

We ate plenty of raspberries as we pulled them off the brambles, and we used lots of them right away. But mostly we froze them.  I spread them out on a cookie sheet  as soon as we got home, and stuck them in the freezer. When they were frozen I measured a cup of raspberries into a snack-size baggie. After a few weeks of this we had a small baggie mountain of frozen raspberries to gloat over, about two and half gallons.  Not that we gloated.

This winter Greg has made wild raspberry syrup for the first time. Anything that requires the use of cheesecloth is daunting to me, but he doesn't seem to mind. This syrup is splendid on swedish pancakes or french toast.  And it's the colour of summer. 


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