Patty Craig: A Slice of Time
I was looking for some information in Foxfire 3, one of a series of folklore-collection books that belonged to my late husband. In it, I came across a section entitled Summer and Fall Wild Plant Foods. Although I did not find what I was originally searching for, I found some interesting information, including how to make blackberry jelly as well as grape juice and how to entertain yourself while roasting hazelnuts.
First, in this Foxfire 3 section, recipes using blackberries included cobbler, syrup, flummery, roll, jelly, cordial, wine, nectar, and shrub (pages 282-285). Since blackberries grow locally, the old-fashioned jelly recipe might be useful (especially if Sure Jell is not on the grocery shelf):
-“Blackberry jelly: one quart berries crushed in a pan without sugar or water. Cook slowly eight minutes. Strain; measure; bring to boiling point. Add 1 ½ cups sugar to each cup juice gradually, so the boiling does not stop. Bring to a brisk boil, skim, and bottle.”
I love blackberries except for the seeds, so – for me, jelly is a good choice.
Second, also in the same section (page 318), a grape juice recipe very similar to the one my mother used was included:
-“Grape juice: Sterilize quart jars. Place two cups washed grapes, fully ripe, in each jar. Add ½ cup sugar. Fill to top with boiling water and seal. Let stand three to four weeks before straining for use. This makes a good-smelling, pale juice.”
My mom’s recipe was like this one, but she used 1 cup of grapes and ½ cup of sugar to 1 quart of boiling water. Mom used to make grape juice in half gallon or gallon jars. After two to three months, the juice became more colorful and tasty. It was delicious during the winter months.
Third, a hazelnut story (page 349) caught my attention:
-“Besides being good to eat, especially roasted, the nuts would be used to tell fortunes on Halloween. If you named the nuts for your sweethearts and placed them on an open fire, the nut that jumped or cracked first represented the lover who would come calling first.”
I can see how that practice would have been entertaining.
The Foxfire collection is a good source of information. Although I have an incomplete set, I still occasionally use the books to search for information not easily Googled, such as how to make old-fashioned blackberry jelly or grape juice and how roasting hazelnuts can become a game. Recorded folklore is definitely informative as well as entertaining.