[Image: Dora Ann Hatch, Community Rural Development]
This article originally ran in The Ruston Daily Leader on May 18, 2010.
A special Louisiana law, La R.S. 40:4.9, passed in 1991 and amended in 1995 and 1997, provides an opportunity for an individual to make jams and jellies in their home instead of a commercial kitchen if their sales do not exceed $5,000 in a year. The state sanitary codes do not apply to these individuals, but the law should not be construed to imply that any unwholesome foods should be sold.
Louisiana has lots of luscious berries that can be used to make jellies. The mayhaw, a fruit that measures about 1/2" to 1" in diameter and is bright red to reddish yellow, is plentiful from mid April through early May.
While some people can remember harvesting mayhaws in sloughs or river bottoms, they are now grown in commercial or home orchards created with grafted mayhaws. Several years ago, mayhaw producers were instrumental in having mayhaw jelly declared the Louisiana state jelly.
To locate a mayhaw producer in your area, contact your local LSU AgCenter office or log onto the Louisiana Mayhaw Associations’s website and click on the “where to buy" tab or log onto Louisiana MarketMaker.
Louisiana Mayhaw Association producers listed from our area are Leory Cole and Bubba Hoggatt in Marion, Spec Sherrill in Arcadia, and Paul Scott in Homer. Some of these producers sell fresh berries and others sell juice for jelly making.
Another favorite berry is the blueberry. Fresh, locally grown blueberries should begin appearing at farmers’ markets in early June through mid-July in North Louisiana. Farmers’ markets are a great resource for all fresh fruits for the summer season. Go to PickYourOwn.org for a listing of producers in your area or go to Louisiana MarketMaker.
There you will find information on Pop’s Blueberry Patch in Dubach, Whitman’s Blueberry Farm in Ruston, and Butler Blueberries in West Monroe. This site provides phone numbers and directions to these farms.
In late August and early September, take a walk in the woods to find vines filled with clusters of small purple muscadines often called the “Grape of the South.” A muscadine is a type of wild grape and makes delicious jelly.
All of the berries mentioned in this article can be harvested during their peak season, cooked, juiced and then the juice can be frozen for later use.
Once you have the recipe and berries, you are ready to begin making jelly. If you want more information on jelly making, log onto the LSU AgCenter website.
Your jelly will be a hit at the local farmers’ market, roadside stands, or festivals. If you have any jars left over, just Facebook your friends.
For more information, contact Dora Ann Hatch.