An article by Linda Avery-Eaton about Zachar Bay Lodge.
Linda Avery-Eaton is a woman of faith who helps run Zachar Bay Lodge in Kodiak Island, Alaska. She has a husband and two children and thrives on learning how to grow, plant, and make new things for the lodge and her family.
You can miss a lot of natural resources if you don’t know where to look. You can also miss those that are right in front of your face. It took my husband asking why we were shipping in apple juice for our kids when we have so many raspberries that we can’t pick them all for me to realize that. That was a good question and the start of the annual tradition of making juice.
Zachar Bay Lodge on Kodiak Island, where we live part of the year, has a plethora of Russian raspberries that have taken over the grounds. I’ve been told most of the old cannery sites on the island have these “wild Russian raspberries” that were planted when the canneries were in operation. They are hearty, red and full of flavor. They are raspberries that are well known in Alaska and are sought out by those that make a living turning these berries into a product.
There are more than could ever be picked by those living at the lodge and here they were in abundance waiting to be juiced. Having grown up in a farming family in Michigan, I knew about canning but not juicing raspberries. After consulting my Blue Book on canning it was time to begin.
When I started this venture my daughter was small and I’d pick with a baby monitor nearby so I could be outside picking while she napped. Nowadays both she and her younger brother help pick and juice. We started small as the process for deseeding was new. I recalled my mom canning tomatoes and juicing them with a steel canning cone; I remembered seeing one in the lodge dining hall. That is how our juicing began – squashing the juice through the holes, leaving the seeds behind.
However, one year I was not able to can as I picked, and I discovered that if you freeze the berry it juices itself. One only has to pull it out of the freezer and put it in a strainer. My husband has researched juicers and has come to the conclusion the way we are doing it works just as quickly as a store-bought juicer. Without an electric juicer, we also have the advantage of canning even when the generator is not running.
Once the seeds are out of the berries, the juice is heated to 180 degrees before being put into clean hot jars and sealed. Then the jars require a hot water bath. One might think it is a long process when factories do this for you, but the family working together to get this done and the excellent taste can’t be bought. It also eliminates waste as you reuse the jars. Waste reduction is a necessity when you live remotely.
My family loves this juice as do those we share it with. The raspberries were there the entire time, but it took thinking differently about their use to fulfill a need that we had. It is only snowballing as this year I’ll freeze some into cubes to pull out to make a roasted garlic raspberry vinaigrette that I’ve grown to crave.
So the next time you think you have to buy something from the store, take a look at the resources you have at your disposal. You may find you simply need to think a bit differently about what you already have on hand. Who knows, you may be the next one to develop a new annual family tradition.