The Image: Misha de Ridder, "Forest"

For quite some time I have been working in a small willow forest near a former sand quarry in the Flevopolder in The Netherlands. The Flevopolder consists of newly made land the Dutch acquired from the sea in 1968. The willow forest sprung spontaneously from the seeds that fell from willow branches they used to reinforce the dykes. Since almost all the forests in The Netherlands are manmade, this small willow forest is as close to wilderness you can get. Willow trees live to be about forty, maybe fifty years, so the willow forest is now slowly dying to make way for a new forest of ashen and elm.

But there's more to the forest then only willow trees and stinging nettles. Last week, while shooting I was struck by the sheer amount of ripe blackberries. The hot summer air smelled heavy and sweet. Now you must know my son Ramses absolutely loves blackberries and it would have been a disgrace not to bring him and to let him feast on the excess. Also the idea arose that preserving some of this natural wealth would be even better. So I decided to make blackberry jam.

Saturday the four of us set out, my girlfriend and me and my son and daughter, five and seven years old. We picked and we picked and we ate and we ate and after two hours we had gathered about three kilos of the most delicious ripe and sweet blackberries in the forest.

Here's the recipe of the blackberry jam we made the next day:

Use 500 grammes of jam sugar on about 1500 grammes of blackberries. Wash blackberries. Sterilize jars. Put a small amount of water in the pan and add the whole blackberries and bring it to a boil. Then boil 15 to 20 minutes gently while stirring occasionally. Add the jam sugar and stir the mixture until all the sugar has dissolved, briskly boil for 5 minutes and then pour the blackberry jam into the jars. Seal the jars and place them upside down so that the remaining air from the hot blackberry jam eliminates any remaining bacteria. Let the blackberry jam cool and it's ready for use.

- Misha de Ridder