Shipki Juice and Jam day

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….


11 responses to “Shipki Juice and Jam day

  1. Linda, Besides having fun you are becoming very wise!

  2. Oh this so makes me appreciate my grocery store. I read this and think of how wonderfully earthy and healthy. Then I get a grip on reality and think oh dear God was I born in the right place!!

    Love your updates, keep ’em coming!!!

  3. Interesting insight.

  4. Thanks so much to everyone for your comments! It’s difficult to really convey the differences in culture and yet there’s so much the same…. a toilet brush is a toilet brush anywhere….

  5. Just love seeing your posts, Linda. What an experience!

  6. I don’t know Lin….I feel kind of bad taking the time to read your blog. I should be boiling something down or peeling something. I have created a fire pit in the backyard so that when you come home, you’ll have fewer re-adjustments! Love reading your thoughts!

  7. carol schartner

    Hi Linda,
    I look forward to your messages and enjoy the pictures. You are becoming quite the cook and seem to enjoy being back to the basics. Do you need me to send you some warm sock, gloves, scarfs or ear muffs??

    Carol S.

  8. You are describing Waterbury Loop! Okay well sort of. I mean, we went out with the kids, picked berries or bought apples, made jam and applesauce. And then hung out by the pool! HEhehe

  9. You know I have never liked to cook….or gather (get hands in dirt) …rather clean a toilet! My family would starve! Sending stuff soon…maybe Thursday. All is well…….Deb

  10. Linda,
    What an amazing adventure. Just got back from VEW/OLA – all of your “optical friends” say HI. Not many people have the opportunity to live their dreams – I remember you talking about the Peace Corp 20 years ago! I’m so proud of you and think about you every day. Take care. Love you.

  11. Linda Winnie Towne

    Hi Eg! My machine was down for a couple days – just read this. Wow! I totally agree with you that America has lost something over the years – we truly don’t do enough neighboring. Enjoy! Hey, where can I mail you stuff? What stuff would you care to receive? Love ya, Win

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