Do you remember me describing our canoe ride and finding very few signs of blooms or green berries. Well, last weekend during the Mayhaw Festival our grandson Colter was selling canoe rides for a buck a per person. He and our son Ken were having a grand time canoeing around the Mayhaw Pond. During their adventure they discovered berries floating on the water. Not many but the ripening berries could be seen hidden among the leaves. Since then we have been out gathering whatever seemed ripe and more are showing up each day. This is certainly not the crop we had in 2010, however, we are able to find more as we go out each day. Apparently the late cold spells got the first round of blooms but another round must have come out once that passed.
Fred gathered yesterday morning and I gathered in the afternoon and early evening. I would walk all around gathering and checking for the next good spot and see a tree with nothing on one side and hundreds of berries on the other side – not quiet ripe but very close. Pablo and Fred gathered again this morning. We are wading in knee to chest deep water, floating a large red bucket, blue works too, and skimming the fallen berries as we go. We do sometimes shake the branches gently but want to let them stay out of the water as long as possible. The berries deteriorate quickly once they get wet. Then after gathering we go through the drying and cleaning process.
That’s a makeshift table with hardware cloth and fans running under it to dry and blow off the debris. Very clever system. David Ward, Jefferson County’s Mayhaw Gathering Expert, came up with the idea of pouring the berries in front of a fan but for the most part it took two people. Lazy people always find a simpler method thus the table and fans. Once dry we pick out the sticks that were too heavy for the fan and get the berries ready for freezing. Properly frozen these berries will hold for several years to be used in that jelly making process. I now have a recipe for a Mayhaw Pie thanks to a friend. As soon as I can catch a breath, I’m going to give it a try.
It does look like we’ll have berries for sale now. We’ve gathered about 80 pounds these last few days and there are still green berries on the trees. It is best to email me – preferred method of communication – at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call but I can’t carry my phone into the Mayhaw Pond – 850-997-6599.
The Mayhaw Festival last week was great. Nice group of attendees in spite of Saturday’s overcast rainy weather and no berries at that time. I understand there were heavy rains in parts of Tallahassee and even downtown Monticello. Here at Golden Acres it was light off and on and we only got a real rain after 6:00 PM. A few folks have promised to send me photos but I haven’t received them yet. Hello…..do you have photos you can share?
Advanced notice for 2014
I’m smarter now. The Mayhaw Festival will be the second weekend in May. That is traditionally the weekend the berries are ripe. I tried to second guess this unseasonable winter weather and thought they would be ripe earlier if we had any at all. I prefer to be right but don’t mind admitting I’m wrong. Especially since there are now berries out there.