Berry sweet memories

Posted by Anita on 06.25.10 3:08 PM

(c)2010 AEC *All Rights Reserved*Growing up in Southern California, no summer was complete without boysenberry-flavored treats like boysenberry pie, boysenberry ice-cream topping, and even boysenberry pancake syrup. Popularized by Walter Knott at his Buena Park farmstand — years before Knott’s Berry Farm morphed into Southern California’s second-fiddle amusement park — this blackberry-raspberry hybrid boasts large fruit and a tart-yet-sweet taste that brings together the best qualities of both its parents.

Sadly for us in Northern California, the boysenberries of my youth are highly perishable; they don’t travel well, and they need to be eaten or preserved within a day of being picked. I’ve only found them once locally, and their mushy texture and under-ripe flavor didn’t match up to my childhood memories. On our recent Los Angeles vacation, I nearly cried with nostalgia when I found a box of boysenberries at the Hollywood Farmers Market; I took them back to our vacation house and greedily popped them in my mouth like bonbons, knowing full well that they might be the only boysenberries I’d taste for a long, long time.

But boysenberries are just one of many varieties of blackberry-raspberry hybrids, and a number of their close cousins — including olallieberries, loganberries, and tayberries — grow well and abundantly here. Of the three, my favorite are the tayberries: large-ish berries with a heady, floral aroma that highlights their Rosaceae family ties to roses and plums. Less seed-riddled than raspberries, but more complex-tasting than domesticated blackberries, tayberries may well have stolen my heart away from the boysenberries of days past. (Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but a girl has her limits.)

Anxious to preserve some of that mysterious tayberry flavor, I decided to make them the star of our entry for this month’s Berries/Cherries CanJam, hosted by Well Preserved. Tayberries’ spicy undertones and deep ruby-red color reminded me of the bottle of Peychaud’s bitters in our home bar, and the floral notes of both ingredients mix and mingle to make one heck of a summer preserve. Our first three-jar batch was so craveworthy, I made a beeline for the berry stand the very next weekend to make a few more jars.

(c)2010 AEC *All Rights Reserved*(c)2010 AEC *All Rights Reserved*(c)2010 AEC *All Rights Reserved*(c)2010 AEC *All Rights Reserved*(c)2010 AEC *All Rights Reserved*

Tayberry-Peychaud Preserves
- adaped from Blue Ribbon Preserves

7 cups whole, firm tayberries
6-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp unsalted butter
3oz liquid pectin
2T Peychaud’s bitters

Prepare canner, lids, and seven 8-oz jars according to the usual method; keep jars hot until needed.

Gently rinse the berries, and drain well. (If berry seeds trouble you, you may want to mash half of the berries through a sieve.) Alternately layer the berries and half the sugar in an 8-quart pan; let stand for 30 minutes.

Gradually heat the berry mixture over medium-low heat until most of the sugar is dissolved, stirring to prevent sticking. Add the remaining sugar, a cup at a time, stirring between each cup. Heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, then stir in the butter.

canjam01Bring the mixture to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in the pectin, return the mixture to the rolling boil, again stirring constantly. Boil while you stir for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, and skim off any foam. Set aside for 5 minutes to help prevent floating fruit. Gently stir in the bitters and distribute the fruit.

Using a stainless-steel canning funnel, ladle preserves into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims and center lids on jars. Screw band to fingertip-tight.

Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely submerged. Bring to a boil and process covered for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid; wait 5 minutes, then remove jars. Cool, check for seals, and store in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

CanJam, preserving & infusing, recipes



Comment by Rocky

Ooooh, I like the sound of this one!

Posted on 06.28.10 at 5:54PM

Comment by melissa

It never occurred to me to put bitters in my jam but now I’m wondering why the hell it didn’t. That is brilliant.

Posted on 06.29.10 at 10:54AM

Comment by philandlauren

I too recall boysenberries, primarily in the form of sherbet (or was it ice cream?). Anyhow, it is a distinct berry, which is sadly forgotten in bland berrydom. Hail the tayberry.

Posted on 07.01.10 at 3:37PM

Comment by Helene

Wow! That color is amazing! I have never had a tayberry but from your description I know I’d like them :)

Posted on 07.01.10 at 8:38PM

Comment by meg

It never occurred to me to use bitters in jam either! Fantastic idea…and I’m dying to try tayberries!

Posted on 07.03.10 at 2:38PM

Pingback by My Own CanJam Berry Roundup | Grow & Resist

[...] Married with Dinner tried some different and added bitters to her jam!  Never would have thought of that…but brilliant! Tayberry-Peychaud Preserves is what they came up with. [...]

Posted on 07.03.10 at 4:09PM

Comment by Eugenia

Come up to Eugene and visit in July, and we’ll hook you up with boysenberries! But I have to admit that tayberries are by far my favorite. I make tayberry jam every year. It’s great with cassis, but I like your Peychaud’s idea.

Posted on 07.05.10 at 6:27PM

Comment by A

Where did you get the tayberries? They sound amazing!

Posted on 07.28.10 at 11:24PM

Comment by Kate

I just had Tayberry jam for the first time this week and fell head over heels. But where did you get the berries!?

Posted on 08.11.10 at 12:56AM

Comment by kathy

My mother has been pawning these off on me for years — she has a bumper crop EVERY yea. They seem to be an easy thing to grow. I usually make juice out of a mixture of tayberries and raspberries and sometimes blueberries. Just get the biggest pot you have fill with water, dump in a small freezer bag of both tay and raspberries and sugar, boil the crap out of it, and let cool down (usually outside overnight) then pour through cheesecloth into pitchers (or 4-quart plastic milk containers or litre pop containers, after pouring first into a container with a spout of course).

My mother also makes this killer dessert that everyone always expects her to schlep to all family functions all year long. Graham crust, tayberry filling (probably with knox gelatine) and then either whipped cream or meringue on top. (The meringue is the best.) Tayberry on graham crust is the best flavor, especially if it sits for a few days in the fridge as leftovers. It’s usually the first thing to be divided up after the meal to take home.

Posted on 08.24.10 at 10:58PM

Comment by Stacy

This is great. I am glad that you love berries as much as I do. I like to can them, eat them and I like to give them away for Christmas. They are always a treat for everyone.

Posted on 09.12.10 at 12:54PM

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