I distinctively remember when I was first introduced to salmonberries by a friend growing up. She showed us how you can bend back the top leaflet in the leaf trio to reveal a butterfly shape. It is a simple way to identify salmonberry bushes. The pink flowers of the plant are a contrasting color against the green of the forest. I always look forward to these berries being the first to ripen in the season. They are not the most delicious berries nature provides, but it is an easily recognizable west coast native edible. The berries have a juicy tang with a modest sweet flavor. A salmonberry jam seemed to be a great idea for a project.
Salmonberry plants are native to the west coast of the United States from California to Alaska. The berries were important to the Native Americans eaten mixed with salmon or roe hence the name Salmonberry. They are said to ripen mid June to Late July. This year spring on the coast was very mild so I found them ripening as early as mid-May. However, they really came into full swing in early June providing me enough berries to can.
Langdon Cook on the Fat of the Land Blog observed the color of the berries varies from light orange to dark red or purple. I also discovered that each individual plant seemed to have varying leaf and stem shapes. Some of the leaves were narrow and some were broad. A few of the plants had a lot of thorns, although most did not, so I was careful to look where I picked.
Being a berry that is very similar to raspberries and thimbleberries, a basic jam recipe can be used. I used the jam recipe from Dot Heggie of Bosky Dell Natives.
Rinse off the salmonberries and remove any stems, leaves, or moldy pieces. Measure the berries to find out how many cups you have and put them in a sauce pan. Measure out 2/3 cup of sugar for every 1 cup of berries. Use a potato masher to crush the berries. Heat the berries and sugar on medium and stir constantly until the sugar dissolves. Heat the jam on high to achieve a boil while continuing to stir. Boil until the jam sheets off of a spoon or saucer. If the jam seems too watery, or if you lose patience, add a tablespoon of pectin. If a foam forms skim it off the top. Spoon the hot jam into the sterilized jars leaving ¼ inch heads space. Tighten the lids down with the bands and boil the jars in water for 10 minutes. Cool the jars on the counter overnight and check the seals in the morning.