It's jam making time around these parts. Around May I start watching the price of berries at the store, and usually in late May or early June, berries are so cheap you can buy loads of them for a dollar or less a pound. Last year we stuck with strawberry jam, and it was delicious. We ate our last jar just a few weeks ago.
This year, in addition to making five batches of strawberry jam, JR decided we should try our hand at making Heavenly Hash. For those of you who aren't lucky enough to have a Grandma Hellewell, Heavenly Hash is a jam my grandma makes which is a combination of strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. And it lives up to it's name.. the stuff is amazingly good.
Grandma happened to call me yesterday and when I asked her if she had made her Heavenly Hash yet, she told me she likes to use boysenberries instead of blackberries. My grandfather always had a large garden in their backyard, and he made sure to grow enough fruit to make jam in the spring. Grandpa passed away several years ago, but there is still one boysenberry bush producing, which means Grandma can still make at least one batch of Heavenly Hash.
We used blackberries in ours and it turned out pretty good... not as good as Grandma's, but not bad for our first attempt. Both JR and I think boysenberries would be better, but they are a little hard to come by. What is a boysenberry, you ask? Boysenberries are a cross between a raspberry, a blackberry and/or a loganberry. And the story of the boysenberry and how it came to be is one worth telling.
Turns out a man named Rudolph Boysen had been experimenting with a new kind of berry, but gave up after a few years. Walter Knott, a local farmer and a bit of a berry expert, heard about the berries and tracked down Boysen, who had since sold his farm. Knott want back to the original farm, found a few of the struggling plants still alive, and transplanted them back to his farm where he nursed them back to fruit bearing health. He named the berry after its creator: the Boysen-berry. Knott soon went on to find his own success, first at a roadside stand where he and his wife made jams and pies using the boysenberry; later with a chicken restaurant; and then for the famous theme park Knott's Berry Farm which they began in the '40's as a way to entertain people who were waiting for a table at the chicken restaurant. According to the Knott's Berry Farm website, all boysenberries in the world can trace their roots back to the original Knott farm.
My grandma says boysenberry plants can be tricky, and that she isn't patient enough to baby them the way my grandfather did. One more thing to add to the garden I am planning in my head... we'll have to carve out a little place for the boysenberries.