Its Berry season………

The days are getting longer and the sun is getting warmer.    The soil temperature is starting to rise, and fruit trees everywhere are setting their fruit for the coming season.  We are watching bees get busy, birds feeding fledglings, and little white spring lambs appearing in sheep paddocks.  Its also the time of year when the berry patch starts to produce again.  Mulberry trees and raspberry canes are still setting their fruit, but early strawberries are already off and running!  If you have home-grown berries then now is when the harvest will start, otherwise we recommend finding your local farmers market and getting to know your closest grower.  The second grade berries are often really economical, and are just as good for fruit smoothies and jams.

We both have hungry teenagers to feed, so making the most of seasonal produce is a big thing, and berries are very versatile.  Strawberry coulis is really easy to make – simply roughly chop your berries and sprinkle a little sugar over (as much or as little as you like) and let the berries macerate in it for a few hours to draw out some syrup.  Bring to a gentle simmer for about 2 minutes, then turn it off and allow it to cool.  Voila – strawberry coulis!  you can freeze it in usable portions, or bottle it off in your Fowlers unit.  It makes great strawberry milkshakes, and delicious on pavlova or poured over pancakes. (if you would like to learn how to bottle using the Fowlers method jump across to our on-demand video which will step you through the process)

Strawberry Jam can be made next-level-aromatic by adding a few drops of rosewater to your mixture, and berry jam of any kind will always benefit from a little squirt of fresh lemon juice.  It helps with the pectin/acid balance, and will help your jam to form a good set.  And have you ever made a strawberry Shrub?  Such a fabulous drink mixer to have in the fridge, goes beautifully with soda water or ginger ale for a non-alcoholic summer drink, or mix with your favourite alcoholic beverage for something a bit more grown-up.  We’ve dropped a recipe for a Strawberry Shrub below so you give it a go.

Mulberry’s are delicious, but can be really messy to pick as they stain clothes and hands, but a tip is to crush a few green mulberries onto the stain to help it lift, so my Nanna always taught us to pick a few green ones as well to have on standby.

And Raspberry’s…well, if you are lucky enough to have room for a few productive vines then good luck having any left over for jam!  Soooooo delicious eaten fresh from the bush…….

We recently visited Jamestown, which is just a fabulous little town in SA’s mid-north, and while we were there meeting all sorts of amazing new keepers, Sharon shared with us her recipe for ‘Jumbleberry Jam’, and I swear, its an absolute winner.  It is Dee.lish. Oss.  (my kids eat of from the jar by the spoonful)

Sharon is the best kind of keeper, and she’s happy for us to share her recipe, so here it is:


Sharon’s Jumbleberry Jam:

450gm berries (raspberries, strawberries, mulberry’s, blueberries)*

450gm sugar

Freshly squeezed juice of one large lemon


In a preserving pan or large saucepan, mix together the berries and sugar, then stir in the lemon juice.  Warm the mixture over a low heat, stirring gently, until the sugar fully dissolves.

Increase the heat and gently bring to the boil.  Cook at a full rolling boil for 5-10 minutes until the jam reaches setting point.  Sharon says that her Grandmother always said that the bubbles need to burst crisply.

Pour the hot jam into hot sterilised jars, seal immediately and label.


*One of the great advantages of this recipe is that doesn’t matter precisely what proportions of berries you use – it is the total weight that matters.  So experiment a little, using what you have available.  You can also successfully adjust the total weight for the recipe depending on what you have access to – just ensure your sugar volume matches the weight of the fruit and you are good to go.


Strawberry Shrub

1 cup strawberries (or any other berries you have available) finely chopped, then tipped into a glass bottle or jar that has a lid.

1 cup sugar

1 cup vinegar  (any vinegar works, but cider vinegar works particularly well, as does verjuice)

Any other botanicals you might like.  eg: Rosemary sprig, lemon zest, clove, vanilla, basil leaf, etc.


Put the sugar, vinegar and optional botanicals in a saucepan and simmer until the sugar has dissolved.  Allow to cool then pour over berries and refrigerate.



Happy Berry season Keepers!


Marieka and Sheralee