The person who was the oldest in my family passed away last night, at 97. She was at my great grandparents’ wedding, and would have been at mine too if it hadn’t been too cold for her to be outside. She lived just up the road from my grandparents, and when I was a little girl I used to walk over to her house to play. It wasn’t fun because she had so many great toys or anything like that. She never married and never had children or grandchildren of her own. But I loved to go over there and spend time with her and her sister (who also never married, and lived in their house until she died). They had a big yard full of beautiful flowers, a nice wide porch to sit on, and an endless supply of Star magazines. They could each be counted on to have a more colorful vocabulary than anybody else in the family and she could play piano in a way that sounded straight out of a vaudeville saloon (though I’m sure she’d never been to a bar in her life). But one of the real reasons I loved to go there was because Ola was a great cook, and always had a piece of pie or cake to give me. I don’t have any of her pie recipes, but I’m going to share one that she swore she only ever made “for medicinal purposes,” and just the way she wrote it down for my mother. Rest lively, Ola.
1 gallon fresh, ripe blackberries
1 quart boiling water
2 1/2 pounds of sugar
Stem, assort and wash 1 gallon of fresh ripe berries. Pour 1 quart boiling water over the berries. Crush with a wooden spoon, using a large crockery churn or glass jar. (Never, but never use a metal container in which any kind of wine has gone to vinegar).
Tie a cloth over the top of churn to keep it free of dust or gnats and yet allow it to ferment.
Allow to stand four days, then strain in a cloth as for jelly. Rinse churn.
Add 2 1/2 pounds of sugar to 1 gallon of juice-depending on how sweet you want the cordial. It is supposed to be a very sweet drink. (Return mixture to churn and let stand covered with cloth for three weeks or months for fermentation. Taste for fermentation.)
Carefully strain through a cloth to keep it clear as possible. Bottle and cork with corks which have stood in warm water to swell a few minutes. Wait 6 months to seal with sealing wax. (not paraffin). Go right by recipe or it might turn to vinegar or bitter, or sour wine. This recipe will not. And it works equally as well with strawberries and muscadines.
(Make it good and don’t drink much at a time or me, John & Yvonne [my grandparents] will hear you singing “Sweet Adeline” smack from Huntsville). Cheers.