Wonderberry Jam, Take One

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by Cathy Erway 

[Cathy writes about Wonderberry Jam and much more on her new blog Lunch at Sixpoint. -mb]

One of the cool things about gardening is that you get to grow things that you didn’t even know existed. Browsing the catalog at Baker’s Creek, Seeds of Change or Seed Saver’s Exchange, some of my favorite sites to find crazy heirloom seeds, is like opening the door to a third dimension of food, where cantaloupes come in fifteen distinct shapes and flavors, and eggplant can be ghost-white, green, golden or red. Or rather, welcome to agriculture, pre-monoculture, again. Eight-ball zucchini, anyone? 

I still don’t know of anyone else who’s heard of wonderberries. They seem to have slipped through the cracks of popular food culture, and that was what probably compelled my boyfriend, Shane, to order seeds for the plant. From the start, it was one of the most prolific growers, beating its neighboring brassicas and lettuces in its race to regenerate. Branches and leaves multiplied. Flowers blossomed and withered in early spring. Now, we’re looking at three great bushes that seem to want to crawl out of their keg-containers and blanket the rooftop with berries. Maybe that’s why they were regarded with “wonder.” 

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Posted in American, Produce

Rhubarb Goes Out with a Jam

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By Cathy Erway

Rhubarb came and went, flooding the farmers’ markets and our food media (including this great savory application) for a few weeks of spring – like a sudden bout of hayfever, only more welcome. Then, it was gone, while new arrivals like strawberries took the spotlight. I had no reason to think that I’d see rhubarb again before next year, until an overnight package from an exceedingly generous acquaintance with a home garden in Massachusetts arrived at my door: Rhubarb: five or six pounds of the juicy, pinkish green stalks.

Such an overload for a one-person dwelling requires swift action. That weekend, I made an enormous pie, piled inches deep with rhubarb — just rhubarb, no room for strawberries here — and covered with a crust that bowed like a circus tent. That used up about a fourth of them. A week rushed by and I worried that the rest of them would get claimed by the compost, but a rainy day proved to be their salvation. Continue reading

Posted in Produce