I almost shat myself because I was so excited to see Schuh Farms had Tayberries at the U-district Farmers Market. Tayberries and punch cards, you know those business card shaped things coffee shops specialize in. I go to that market by bus so I have to be strategic about purchases, which means I only got one hole in my punch card. This is dramatic, but starting in July, once there are apricots, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries AND peaches all at the same time, going into the market with jam on the mind feels like rock hopping, the kind you do fast, dashing from one stone to the next, you see them sequentially, but they also have a way of changing when they're underfoot. One week, a farmer is swimming in cherries, they have to sell the fruit or they'll lose it. That's when I can get cherries for $2/lb if I buy enough. But the following week the same farmer has a smaller enough amount to sell that they're not interested in bargaining. Of course a lot of this has to do with my not being an official business. I know from working at restaurants that they get dibs that us regular market goers only get if we really cultivate a relationship with a purveyor. Last year at the Corson Building restaurant, towards the end of the cherry season, I remember processing bargain priced cherries destined for a crock with brandy and sugar while those same cherries were selling for "start of the season" prices at the farmers market. ANYWAY, I get obsessed with these details, who has what first, who is and isn't up for bargaining, who is the only farmer selling orange currants, etc, but I'm not as sure about who has the best of something. That confidence comes and goes. The worst is blueberries. I'll taste all the blueberries at the market and concentrate hard on what I'm tasting. Which one is best? I come up short. But if I left the market, went to the grocery store and bought a pound of blueberries to bring home, I'd eat them fast. They probably wouldn't even last long enough to make pancakes or muffins for breakfast the next day. I think the "best" correlates with the flavor of your hunger. Something too acidic one day becomes just the punch you want the next.
You'd want to eat Tayberries fast too. They self-juice upon picking. The green half quart containers holding the tayberries were soaked with juice and tie-dyed with maroon. Tayberry, the length--verging on distension--of a Loganberry with the white heart of blackberry shown in black-raspberry color and raspberry sized aggregations.
I made Tayberry jam after Apricot & White Cherry and before batches of Black Currant Jam and Sour Cherry Preserves. I'm going on about Tayberries, but it's the Black Currant Jam that really made me stop and think for a moment. Currants taste so happily placed when mixed with honey! I should know this by heart from the jars of Red Currant syrup my mothers makes in Vermont and sends to me in more bubble wrap than you can imagine. I like to mix 2 Tablespoons of the syrup with half a pint of mineral water. I almost always drink it too fast, giving myself a stomach ache from all the bubbles. That musty and blunt tartness of sweetened currants is so damn good I get insatiable for it.
One of these jars is for my mom, but the rest are for you.