The berries were sweet and worth the scratches and stains that came from picking them. For every few berries placed in the small buckets, more were eaten raw by the children since they were so tasty. Picking berries was important in olden days because it was a good source of food that could be preserved for use during the entire year.
There were many kinds of berries that could be picked in the spring, but somehow our elders referred to all varieties as blackberries. There were “blackberries” that ripened in trees, except those were really mulberries. Mulberries were easy to pick and had fewer seeds and were very tasty, but not as firm and the children loved to squeeze the juice all over their clothes and bodies and that did not please many parents.
The favored berries that grew on small prickly vines were really dewberries. True wild blackberries do grow in this part of the country but were seldom picked since the climate was not suited for them and they seldom ripened.
Our parents would preserve berries for jams, jellies, making pies, and of course the heavy juice “syrup” used as a topping for ice cream, biscuits and pancakes. Those preserves were called confiture by our Cajun parents, who would usually prepare several “Mason jar” quarts and pints of these delicious berries every spring. The French word for preserve “conserve” was sometimes used by our parents, but most would “can” some berries.
I do not ever remember anyone actually using cans to preserve the berries, but I guess some probably used them instead of Mason jars when they used the services of small local canneries such as the “Percy Hebert Cannery” in Cecilia.
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