Aug 02-03

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2003: August: Aug 02-03
Latest crop of Blueberries    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by David Woon

Charlie at Pasty Central on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 10:44 am:

While our spotlight has been on Crystal Falls this week, here is a common scene just about anywhere in the U.P. this morning, especially along Lake Superior. Yesterday Jonathan and I walked along the Lake here in Eagle River and ate handfuls of these growing on the dunes.

Also yesterday we spent some time up in the top of Quincy Mine adding more capacity to Pasty.NET's wireless access point which serves Houghton/Hancock and surrounding areas with broadband Internet. Our thanks to Lynn Torkelson for a favorable review of the wireless in Keweenaw Now.

By Pete Wi on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 10:50 am:

Great shot. Thanks to Rick Anderson for the aerials. Just getting ready to head to the CC for a wedding.

By Fort Wilkins laundress on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 10:56 am:


I just hope there will be some of these beauties left by the time I get up there next weekend. And the bill berries and black berries. Would love to have a homemade pie! What a great taste of home.

By Mary, Lemoore CA on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 11:15 am:

How are the Thimbleberries this year? I look forward to my grandma's thimbleberry jam. We can't get that out here in California. Next year when I come home in August, I am bringing back a whole case.

By Al, So.Ca. on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 12:01 pm:

So similar a site as Coastal areas of Oregon; get to go back soon.

By GR Guy on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 12:55 pm:

Can anyone tell me where to purchase thimbleberry jam in Houghton/Hancock? Just dropping Junior off at MTU in late August and can't make it up to The Jampot. Any other places sell the Nectar of the North?

By Kate, CA on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 01:05 pm:

Huge blueberries are commercially grown here in CA
but they NEVER have the flavor of the U.P.
blueberries. How can such a tiny berry pack so
much punch!

By JAD. Oskar on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 01:36 pm:

GR Guy--"Jim's Food Store" near MTU sells it.
$10.99. But hurry!

By L.L. Mich on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 01:39 pm:

Speaking of thimbleberries...Anyone have a good recipe for jam?

By pcm on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 01:44 pm:

GR Guy,
Many places sell it. You can even find it on the shelves of Econo Foods. If you drive past the Einerlei in Chassell you might check there. If you can make it as far as the Wooden Spoon in Mohawk it will be well worth the little extra trip out of your way, they have excellent breads, cookies and all types of home made jams imaginable. Enjoy!

You may also purchase it online from the Jam Lady in Eagle River. Here is the website.

By GR Guy on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 01:52 pm:

Thanks, everyone. While my wife sets up Junior's apt, I'll be shopping!

By ec, San Diego, CA on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 03:00 pm:

YUMMMMMM! Such happy memories of picking & eating.

By Mary, Lemoore CA on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 03:46 pm:

When I used to spend the weekend with my grandma, we would pick berries (strawberries, rapsberries and thimbleberries) it would be pick one, eat 2. I miss that. Then we would go home and make jam.

By Nancy, Catharpin VA on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 04:33 pm:

I was doing fine, just counting the days till we leave for Lac La Belle, and then you had to go and put up the blueberries! Now that picture will be in my head till we arrive on Saturday. I can't wait!

By Carole on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 05:13 pm:

Wayyyyyyy back when I was small, my grandparents and I would pick thimbleberries all morning. We would go back to the camp, have lunch and then clean berries the rest of the afternoon. After supper, grandma would make the jam and for the rest of the night we would hear the jars make a popping noise indicating they were sealed. Next day a bench was placed on the side of the road along with the boxes of jam to be sold. Many of the customers were repeats telling grandma her jam was the best they tasted, nice and thick, not watery. Those were the good old days. And if I remember correctly, the best picking of thimbleberries was by Copper Falls. When we were thirsty we could get a drink of ice cold water that ran out of the pipe along side of the road (definitely before bottled water).

By pj, mi on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 05:40 pm:

My sister used to make thimbleberry jam following the Sure-Jell recipe for raspberry jam.

By J, chassell, mi on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 06:44 pm:

Thank you for the nice blueberry pic! I picked berries last night and now have a blueberry cake and blueberry pie fresh from the oven! There are ripe berries but still a lot of raw ones so the best picking is yet to come. It is my favorite thing to do in the summer, it is so peaceful out there. Happy picking everyone!

By Julie Stevens Beck on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 08:13 pm:

Thimbleberry jam does not need pectin or Sure-Jell. The berries themselves have enough pectin in them to skip the additives. Why spoil nature. The recipe I use is one that Prof. Kiril Spiroff used to teach his geology students at Tech. Extremely simple. (The recipe was part of the exam at the end of the year for his students). One cup sugar, one cup berries, mix in a pot. Bring to a boil and put in sterile jars. I have done it myself that way and know that many others have too. EASY and yummy.

By Steve the Troll on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 08:19 pm:

I read of folks setting up "Junior's apt" and it makes me remember da Tech. My father drove he and I almost 600 miles from Detroit area to the front of DHH. I had never been north of the Bridge. We got out of the car, opened the trunk, he handed me my suitcase, shook my hand, and said, "Gotta make time home son, good luck." I didn't even know if I had a room in the dorm. True story. Finished Da Tech, the army, law school, and seem to have done okay. I guess you had to be there. It was the sixties...

By Carole on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 08:43 pm:

Julie: Thats the way my grandmother used to make, she never put any additives to the jam.

By Fran,Ga on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 09:14 pm:

I just got thru picking another gallon of blueberries in my yard. With all the rain we have had here they are huge and plentiful. They are sweet but nothing like the wild blueberries we picked at Sandy Bottom and around Point Mills. Also, all of Michigan's strawberries-wild and tame are the best I have ever eaten!!! Love the picture.It would be a nice Calender picture I think.

By GR Guy on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 09:14 pm:

Thanks for the story, Steve. I had a similar experience, but didn't even get the ride. If I was going to college, it was going to be up to me. Paid the tuition myself and everything. You're right, times have indeed changed. I'm afraid Junior's mother is calling the shots on this one, and her boy is not about to be 500 miles from home without her seeing to it that he's safe and sound. Aren't families great?

By Em, MI on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 10:20 pm:

You are absolutely right Julie. Anything added to Thimbleberry Jam except sugar spoils the natural taste. Thats what makes it so good. The recpie is right on.

By Alex Tiensivu, Georgia on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 10:26 pm:

Oh, wow! I have to share this story with everyone! We used to go picking blueberries. I forget where, but they were wild and I am thinking somewhere near Mohawk... perhaps Gay. One day my father made the two most perfect, beautiful looking Blueberry Pies you could ever imagine! We sure worked hard for those pies... All that picking all day...

Oh... One thing I forgot to mention... Instead of sugar, he decided to make them without wearing his glasses and used SALT. I'll be nice since this is a family site, but a few choice words were invented that day! (Especially when my Grandma Tiensivu almost wet herself from laughing so hard).

Well... We went out the next day and GRANDMA made the new pies! My poor father... rest his soul... he was SO angry!!!!

By Paul in Illinois on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 10:58 pm:

As has been said earlier, equal volumes of berries and sugar - nothing else. It takes a devoted berry picker to get alot of thimbleberries. There seems to be a point when the bucket is half full that you just don't seem to make much headway, they start to swish down and the last half takes forever to fill.
Picking can be an adventure. My Grandmother's sister, Kate Vertin, loved to pick berries. Back in the '50's she was working her way around a large patch of thimbleberries up near the Eagle's Nest on Garden City Hill. She knew there was somebody picking on the other side of the patch and assumed it was my Grandmother. Grandmother was picking at another patch, once Aunt Kate met up with the other picker she found it was a bear - both left the patch in great haste.

By Sherry Chapman on Saturday, August 2, 2003 - 11:45 pm:

As a Yooper only by marriage, I really enjoyed all the blueberry stories. The picture is lovely and inviting. I've never tasted a UP blueberry before. I'll have to put that on my 'to do' list this summer when we go up. That recipe for thimbleberry jam sounds great, and easy. We always stop at the Jampot near Eagle River. Gonna go for the blueberry jam this year. And maybe even get some fresh to take home.

By Connie - Colorado on Sunday, August 3, 2003 - 12:51 am:

Since Thimbleberry jam is completely unavailable here, I would be happy to have jam from any recipe. Thimbleberries taste good!

By Martha L. on Sunday, August 3, 2003 - 03:45 pm:

I have a similar story to Paul's in Illinois. My parents, who lived in Copper Harbor at the tip of the Keweenaw Penninsula, were thimbleberry picking on the road that goes out to Clark Mine and the Estivant Pines when a mother bear and her cubs happened along for a thimbleberry snack. Needless to say, my mom and dad decided quickly that they would find somewhere else to pick!

This is off the berry subject, but since I'm on a "beary" subject, I can't help but to tell about the time that someone gave my parents a whole bag full of smelt (small fish). Our family didn't really like smelt very well, so my dad decided to use the fish in the garden as fertilizer. He buried the fish in the garden. That night, a huge bear came and followed his nose to the smelt in the garden. He dug them all up and had a feast. Then, he decided to walk around the lake side of the house and came upon our bird feeder which was on an iron post. He bent the iron post down to the ground and ate the suet (animal fat) that was in the feeder. Then, with his feet still muddy from the garden, he came around to the west side of the house to the side door and stood on his hind legs and put his great big muddy front feet up on the white house on either side of the door and put his wet nose up to the glass to have a look in. He decided that there was nothing to eat in the porch, so he went on to his next stop that night. We still talk about that bear once in a while. More recently (2000) my mom was in the kitchen working on balancing her checkbook. The door between the kitchen and back porch was open and the inside door of the porch was open. My mom thought she heard something just outside. She went to investigate and was about to walk out the screen door when she found herself face to face with a bear. The bear must have been even more surprised to see her than she was to see it because it went running down the sidewalk and around the corner of the house and it left a wet trail behind it!

By Mary Drew on Sunday, August 3, 2003 - 05:15 pm:

Here in Lake Linden today, there were some kids selling Thimbleberry Jam for $6.50 a jar! What a deal! I bought some from them last year, it was delicious.

By Mary Ann, WY on Sunday, August 3, 2003 - 09:48 pm:

Sure would like to be there to pick those good blueberries. I sure do miss them. The ones you buy in the grocery store have no flavor. Wish I were in the UP.

By SUZANNE PRIMUTH/ WISCONSIN on Monday, August 4, 2003 - 01:23 pm:


By Diana - on Thursday, August 7, 2003 - 07:18 pm:

What is a thimbleberry anyway?

By Mary Lou on Saturday, August 9, 2003 - 10:36 pm:

Hi Diana..guess I will attempt to tell you what a thimbleberry is: a ripe berry that is shaped like a thimble. It is somewhat like a raspberry but larger and it has a finer seed. It grows wild in the Keweenaw peninsula and in very few other places in north America. It is a little tart but makes a wonderful jam. You can order some of this delicacy from the Jam Pot on this site.

By Yvonne on Wednesday, September 1, 2004 - 04:28 pm:

I don't use a traditional thimbleberry jam recipe. I eliminate
most of the sugar. This isn't a diet thing. I like the taste of
berries, not sugar.

I make jam using low-methoxyl citrus pectin powder --
usually available at organic food stores and also through
some seed/nursery catalogues. (I've used Pomona's
Universal Pectin brand. Directions for developing your own
recipes are given on a package insert, as are suggested
ratios for fruits like raspberries.) I suspect the
"jelling" in a traditional recipe is largely due to the sugar
making a syrup. It might be worthwile to experiment
without pectin, however this type doesn't change the flavor
of the berries.

My favorite recipe includes for each 4 cups of berries: 1
Tablespoon of lemon juice, and 1/8 tsp of salt - enhances
flavor, and sugar only to sweeten a tad.

Ideal sugar content depends on your own taste buds and
on how sweet the batch of berries is -- how ripe most of
the berries in the pail are. A ratio of 7 cups of mashed
berries to 1 cup of sugar works for me. Quite a difference
from the traditional sugar loaded recipe!

This makes for eating berries, not candy. It's great on ice

A ratio of 6 cups of berries to 1 cup of sugar is already way
too sweet for me. I was always horrified when my
grandmother made jam from perfectly good berries. The
little kid whining, "Why is Grandma ruining the berrries?"
was me.

However, it is all a matter of taste.

If you use a low methoxyl citrus pectin, you decide exactly
how much sugar is right. Also, you can double recipes
wirthout affecting the jelling properties.

If you prefer less sugar than others (some people think my
jam is too tart and others love it), add a little card with their
gift jar. Advise sugar lovers: Dump all the jam from the jar
into a small saucepan. Add sugar to taste. Heat to boiling.
Boil 1 minute or less, to dissolve the sugar. Return all the
jam to the jar. Re-cover and put in your fridge. The seal is
broken, but presumably the jar was opened for use. The
jam is now exactly as sweet as you like it.

Those who can't live without sugaring down their berries
may enjoy the feeling that they've "made their own" jam by
modifying yours.

Even though we know they've done nothing of the kind.
However, making the jam is easy. It's picking enough
thimbleberries to make a batch that is hard work!

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