Traveling around the country has been fun for so many reasons. One of the nerdier reasons being that it’s been fun to peek in different gourmet shops and farmer’s markets we go to see new local products that we can’t get at home.
While we were in Montana, we quickly noticed that there existed huckleberry everything – huckleberry jam, huckleberry syrup, huckleberry honey… even huckleberry ice cream and huckleberry beer! I’m not sure if I’d ever tried it previous to our visit there, but I happened to find some good jam at a gas station souvenir shop (no, really) and despite where I found it, it was awesome! My qualifiers are that it has to have a first ingredient of fruit (not sugar) and is that it is void of weird preservatives. Oh, and it has to taste good.
Once we got to Oregon, berry goods were still everywhere but the flavor changed to Oregon’s popular berry, the Marionberry. Hoping it might prove just as good as the huckleberry, I picked up some Marionberry syrup and Marionberry jam.
Not all jams are not all created equal. This one actually has cute little berries in it! If you eat it straight, you can also taste the little tiny seeds, but they weren’t detectable in a sandwich. The berries gave it a nice texture and the flavor was tart and wine-like. It felt like a sophisticated pb&j (if such a thing exists).
Apparently the berry itself doesn’t have the most romantic story of origin as it’s a man-made hybrid of other berries. According to Wikipedia, “The berry was released in 1956 under the name Marion, after the county where it was tested extensively. Oregon produces between 28 million and 33 million pounds annually, with Marion County and Willamette Valley collectively accounting for over 90% of current production. The marionberry’s growing conditions are perfectly adapted to the mild, maritime Oregon climate, with its mild rains and warm summers. The berries ripen throughout late spring and early summer. The harvesting season is typically between July 10 and August 10, with a single acre producing up to six tons in a harvest.”
Hm… it’s the end of August… maybe I’ll get to taste a fresh one? I’ll keep my eyes peeled. Til then, I’m pretty happy with the jarred stuff.
Keep your eyes peeled for Marionberry jam!