Time running out for picking black raspberries

“Time and tide wait for no man,” is an ancient proverb dating back at least 800 years.

Of course there are other things that don’t wait. At this time of the year I am reminded that the ripening of the wild black raspberries does not wait — if they are not picked, they soon over ripen, fall to the ground, dry up, or the birds beat me to them. In a similar way, it is difficult to predict when the berries need to be picked. This year it was later than most other years. The picking time is usually a couple of weeks in late June and early July.

The wild raspberries I seek are not the domesticated red kind, but are black and are smaller than the raspberries available in the stores. Black raspberries are NOT the same as blackberries. Raspberries when picked have an open or hollow core whereas blackberries have a solid core. Raspberries are also much sweeter than blackberries.

Unfortunately, black raspberries ripen mostly on a one by one basis rather than a stem where all of them ripen at the same time. That means picking them one by one rather than a handfull at a time. As of Sunday I picked the same area three different times over a period of 10 days, yielding about a quart of berries each time and requiring about two hours of picking each time.

A requirement for picking is to have a hat, long sleeves, long trousers, boots, and bug spray and about thirty minutes to get to the secret patch and thirty minutes to get home again. On a sunny day some sun-screen might be a good idea as well. Long sleeves and long pants protect from the thorns and help to keep off ticks. Burrs are plentiful as well.

My goal for the berries is to make jelly (not jam). Thus after lightly washing the berries and adding a bit of water, I boiled and mashed the berries and then strained using a piece of muslin to have just juice, throwing away the pulp and seeds. It is a good idea to juice the berries soon after picking, but the juice obtained can be kept refrigerated for a bit longer – or it can be frozen if necessary.

In another week or so, I will get around to making the jelly. I estimate each half-pint jar is worth about $20 to cover costs including my usual minimum pay rate. Any takers?


Besides working on the berries last week, I indulged in a few cultural-type activities. That included a bit of local and a bit of further afield events.

Wednesday, I was off to Minneapolis to the Guthrie Theater for the production of “Guys and Dolls” — OK, I didn’t say it would be “high culture,” whatever high culture means. I do like most Broadway musicals, and this is one of my favorites. I have been fortunate to experience “Guys and Dolls” on stage several times as well as watching the movie several times. The cast for the 1955 movie included Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, and Vivian Blaine. I sang along with the various songs in the Guthrie production – quietly, of course.

The show will continue from now through to Aug. 25. If you get the chance to go, it is great fun.


On Thursday, the cultural activity was more local. It was time to hear all that is going on with or by the Marshall Area Fine Arts Council (MAFAC). Jan Loft, the MAFAC president, presented the outstanding variety of programs in which MAFAC is involved.

I believe I have had season tickets for all of MAFAC’s Concert Series since its rejuvenation back in the 1980s/1990s. I have missed individual performances, but generally have enjoyed the opportunities provided and those I have been able to attend.

In a sense, the Concert Series held over the school year, continues with some free concerts as part of “A Little Night Music” at 7 p.m. at the Liberty Park Bandshell. That means tonight, July 24, you can experience some blues, soul, and gospel-fueled originals and traditionals from Emily Bass. On July 31 you can hear The Oak Lake String Band. Aug. 7 will have an á capella group blending harmonies from tin Pan Alley, rock ‘n’ roll and contemporary music. Aug. 14 brings us the Route 68 Big Band playing jazz and big band standards.

Visiting the MAFAC gallery on 3rd Street will allow viewing of some unusual stained glass productions. Also while there, you can find some good books for sale by/about local folks, plus lots of locally crafted gift items.

Though it is probably too late to enter the 2019 Annual Photography Competition and Exhibit because registration was due July 23, you soon will be able to see the entries when they are exhibited from Aug. 6 through Sept. 13. The themes for this year’s competition are Drama in the Sky and Windblown. Now that sounds like something all folks in our area experience quite often.


To close out last week, I was back to Minneapolis, this time to a two-hour plus rehearsal of the Minnesota Orchestra. At the coffee provided before the rehearsal, the group I was with visited with Marni Hougham, a 22+ year member of the MN Orchestra playing the English horn and sometimes the oboe. Finding out we were from Marshall, she said, “Oh, we recently hired a man from Marshall as a timpanist.” The principal timpanist is Erich Rieppel who holds the Dimitri Mitropoulos Chair position. Erich is the son of Southwest Minnesota Orchestra Director and Music Professor at Southwest Minnesota State University, Dr. Dan Rieppel.

Until next time: Oh, Fiddlesticks!