I had heard that the early Indians and Spaniards of California used to use Manzanita Berries for a number of items, from Jellies, flours and Cidars; even using the leaves medicinally. So off I went to try and find out all about it, especially since they are something that grows wild up here and are free for the taking. But of course, before I did I went out and picked as many berries as possible...not a job for the faint of heart...lol.
As history would have it these berries which grow so abundantly in the California Foothills were also called BearBerries as they are one of Bears favorite foods. So of course I was extremely aware of my surroundings and any crackle of branches sent me running.
When picking the berries be sure to pick them with out the stem whenever possible, and be prepared since the stems are very sappy and sticky, which makes it hard as heck to clean them off the berries if you don't do it at first. Just a word to the wise from one who learned the hard way.
Here in the Foothills of the Sierras in California the best time for picking the berries is April through May, but they can still be found in June and most of the summer, just not as abundant. The berries are smaller than marble size, and it takes alot of patience and perserverance to get a half gallon of them. I believe it would be easier if you had a crew of three or more to do it in a bout a days time....lol. Ohhhh and by the way...watch out for Poison Oak!!!
I will be making this jelly up soon and will then make any adjustments to the recipe that might be needed.