My stand of coreopsis was reduced to 3 or 4 spindly, hacked up plants around the terra cotta chicken fountain. The hennys did a pretty good job of dismembering said stand. So, I was reduced to trolling the county roads. My very own personal county road, also called 232, was loaded with the 3rd blooming 2 weeks ago. I had not had time all summer long to even pull over and snip some blossoms. So, this was it. I made sure I had a big ol trash bag with me whenever I went out. And finally, I said to myself, “Today’s the day.”
I set out for the feed store, expecting to see masses of yellow flowers, but when I turned out onto the road, all I saw was new mown grass. A mile later…5 miles later…8 miles later, there was a tractor, mowing ’em down. I turned onto 27. Tractors mowing everywhere. It was one of those early fall days, you felt you could be outside, I guess. I got the feed. Not a flower in sight. Decided to take an alternate route home. And there, by the bottling plant near the springs, OH HA! The Last of the Coreopsis.
So there you go. I mordanted a variety of fiber…some of Holly’s hoggett fleece from last April’s shearing, some fine GCNI from a sheep in Dry Creek, Louisiana, some Border Leicester from Maryland. Then I made a dyepot with half of those coreopsis. The result…not intense oranges, but milder, softer shades. I’m totally delighted with the “overdye” effect on the gray GCNI. I want to wear THAT.
Here’s a close up, sans flash, of this season’s green cotton. We had quite a time with cotton this year. Permitted by the state, boll weevil trap planted in the garden by the Division of Plant Industry, and inspected by Wayne every three weeks this summer.
This is our 2nd year of growing cotton. We planted only green. I selected bolls with the darkest fiber, and was pleased with the outcome. Most of the cotton is medium green. Last year’s batch was all over the green spectrum…but mostly very very pale.
These are beautyberries. An entirely different color. Pretty intense. I’ve been cutting stems and making wild bouquets with goldenrod. For years. Well, this year, I heard tell of a jelly made from beautyberry. Lenore, daring wench that she is, went first. She found “the mother lode” on her 10 acres. She was so daring she even added wine. Well. I tasted her jelly. I tasted the berries. I knew I had to make some.
Lenore the Enabler showed up at the farmers market with a big fat bag of berries. Almost enough for the “recipe.” On one of Smitty’s morning sojourns, I picked enough to make enough jelly for the Western World. I didn’t add wine. Just berries, pectin, and sugar.
Here you go. Five half-pints of jelly. Scarlet jelly. Now, how did that happen? The violet berries produced an amber colored juice. When the pectin hit…instant color change! I’d never used pectin before, so I didn’t know what to expect. The jelly set right up…ka-boom! Heck in a handbasket, it’s just like store-bought. Except it tastes herbal, wild, and like nothing that Publix would ever carry. Yum.
Oh…and the recipe…should anyone out there care to dare:
1 1/2 qts beautyberries
2 qts water
1 pkt pectin
4 1/2 c sugar
Start a boiling water canner rolling. Prepare 5 1/2 pt jars, lids, and bands.
Rinse and pick over berries. Ditch the stems. Cover the berries with the water. Bring to a boil…let boil for 20 minutes. Mash the berries a bit. Strain.
Use 3 c of the berry juice. (You’ll have another 3 c left to refrigerate to make more at a later date.) Bring the juice to a boil. Whisk in an envelope of pectin. (I used Ball brand.) As it boils, whisk in the sugar (all at once) and bring a 2nd boil. Let it boil hard for a minute.
Remove from heat. Skim off the “stuff” on top. Pour into sterilized 1/2 pt jars with 1/4″ headspace. Process for 10 minutes.