These berries grow wild in the mountains surrounding Kratovo (I’m told) and look sort of like over-sized, elongated cranberries. My mom and her friend bought 18 Kilograms (about 40 lbs.) and the work started Saturday night with taking off all the tops and cooking them for about 3 hours. Sunday they were crushed, strained, hot water added, crushed and strained again–and the process repeated until there was nothing left but skins and seeds. (Each Shipka had about a dozen little seeds in it.) Towards the end we were using of all things, nylon knee-highs to strain the juice. Some of the resulting product was set aside for Juice, the rest was cooked down over that marvelous outdoor stove for Jam. I’m guessing it held about 12 gallons of juice to start. It took maybe 6 hours of constant cooking and constant stirring–these women work HARD! Now you’ll notice I’m standing next to a hot stove and still wearing a warm vest. It’s gotten COLD over here and been in the 30’s several days. However Saturday was a beautiful day and probably got into the 50s, and the other women were wearing only their shirts–I’m a Florida weather wimp! I told you that my host mom is kind of fascinated that I’ve never done this stuff before and thinks it’s weird that I simply go to the supermarket. She asked me what kind of work do I do when I’m home, and I was really glad I don’t have enough vocabulary to tell her–I don’t think grocery shop, throw a load of laundry in and hang out in my backyard pool is exactly her idea of work. That said, the sense of camaraderie, the women dropping in and out, the family and neighborhood talk, the shared sense of purpose…all wonderful things that I think must have been part of our culture with the early settlers. Our American ‘independence’ has also brought an American isolation where many of us don’t even know our neighbors. We’re sort of proud of the fact that we don’t NEED each other. It really makes me think….