“Beauty is in the eye of the Berry-Holder”

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When I visit  the in-laws, I can hang out inside the indoor flea market called their house or get outside and explore. I chose the latter and found they had a nice crop of beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) in the woodline behind their house. So I convinced my step-daughter that making jelly is much cooler than homework, not a hard sell. Unfortunately, I couldn’t convince her to let me eat the armadillo that is burrowing under her pool.

We followed the recipe from “Florida’s Incredible Wild Edibles” by Richard Deuerling and Peggy Lantz.

1 ½ qts. of Beautyberries, washed and clean of green stems and leaves. Cover with 2 qts. water.Boil 20 minutes and strain to make infusion. Use 3 cups of the infusion, bring to boil, add 1 envelope Sure-Jell and 4 ½ cups sugar. Bring to second boil and boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand until foam forms. Skim off foam, pour into sterilized jars, cap.

We followed the instructions and made five 8 ounce jars and had enough infusion to make another batch today.

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We were all surprised at the results, as the raw berries are not anything to write home about and they didn’t smell that great while cooking. However, as advertised, the jelly is “exceptional” and I found myself staking out the neighborhood bushes on my run this afternoon. Over the next couple days, I am going to commandeer the kitchen for my makeshift jelly factory and test out the bug dope recipe as well.

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