When the summer comes to an end - and the demands of everyday life resume, we infuse a sweet sense of escapism into our days with berry picking. Celebrating the end of the summer season by harvesting berries, mushrooms and herbs gives me some kind of tranquillity. The wild berry picking season, or berjamó as we say in Icelandic, is from mid-August into September.
This is the time Icelanders flock to the countryside to pick ripe wild bilberries and crowberries, which grow in abundance almost everywhere. During this time of year, families and groups of friends with small buckets lean into the low-lying shrubs to pick crowberries and bilberries. The berries are packed with antioxidants and other nutrients.
The most common thing Icelanders do with the harvest is to make jam or sulta in Icelandic. People also freeze them for later, add them to their morning smoothies, and pair them with pancakes or skyr. I love to furnish a buttered sourdough toast with a spot of homemade jam, as well as adding a dash of sweetness to savory dishes
Our bilberries are smaller than average blueberries and have red juice inside of them. Crowberries are fairly small and almost black - they can taste a bit tarty but are delicious to add to juices and pastry.
Every season, I make a few jars of wild berry jam. I also think that a homemade pot of blueberry jam makes a lovely hostess gift. Would you like to give my simple recipe a go?
Here it is:
1 kg ripe blueberries (or bilberries)
300 gr sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
Combine the ingredients in a pot to boil - simmer for about 10 minutes (after boiling)
Pour into clean jars to store and share.