p r e s e r v e s

b l u e b e r r i e s

It was a very busy (and hot) weekend.  I picked up half a bushel of corn & and box and a half of tomatoes from Mrs. Caver at the MT Laurel Farmer's Market, then headed over to the next valley to pick some yummy blueberries at the Balch's farm.  It's a really beautiful 15 minute drive, and Mrs. Balch is just the kindest of ladies.  They have rows and rows of blueberry bushes, just brimming with the plumpest blueberries - only $8 a gallon!  Think about it.  A few minutes in this heat and you are saving yourself about $40 at the grocery store price of $5.99/pint.  And, it's local (remember:  Think Globally, Eat Locally)!

At the Balch's place, you're on your own.  Mr. Balch opens the gates at 7:00 in the morning, Wednesday thru Saturday.  There is a table with gallon buckets, paper towels, bags and bug spray (use the organic bug spray)!  You pick your berries in the field, come back to the table and pour them in a bag and drop your $8 in the little honor system box, and you're on your way ... Note to the wise:  Watch the ant hills.

So when I got back with my THREE gallons of blueberries, I sorted through them and started making preserves.  This is a basic, simple recipe, and, as it turns out, everyone loves it.  So much so that I only have 4 pints left from the original 12 pints that I canned about 4 weeks ago.

10 cups blueberries, rinsed and cleaned of stems*
5 cups sugar
2T lemon juice (optional)
Yep.  That's it.  Blueberries, sugar and lemons

*Little trick for cleaning blueberries - put them all in a large pot and cover with water  All the stems and leaves will naturally float to the top.  Scoop those out with a strainer or slotted spoon.  If you run your fingers, GENTLY through the berries in the water, you will also kick some of the stems loose.

Makes 12 pint jars

(1)  PREP TIME:  Clean your jars - Run them throughout he dishwasher with the tops and rings.  Put a small plate in the freezer - you will use this to test the "gel-ness" of the preserves when they're cooked.

(2)  Combine the blueberries and sugar.  Allow the berries to sit for some time in the sugar to macerate.  No defined time - :30m to 3 hours.

(3) Heat a water-bath canning pot half-full of water with the clean jars submerged.  While you're at it, heat a small pot with the lids and rings in it to boil and turn it off until you are ready to use.
(4) Get the blueberries going.  Heat the blueberries & sugar (and lemon if you choose to do so) in a large pot (I used my big Le Creuset dutch oven).  Keep stirring, so you don't burn the bottom, but just let them bubble away.  Cook for about 20 mins.

(5) When your berries look like this, put a teaspoonful of cooked blueberries on the frozen plate and put it back in the freezer for about 2 minutes. If it is not running when the plate is tilted sideways, then you're "gelling".

(6) Place glass jars on a towel covered board.  Spoon the blueberries into the hot jars and wipe the rims clean of any spillage.  Place the tops on with the screw bands and tighten lightly.

(7) Place all the jars in the canner.  Start the timer for 10 minutes when the pot starts boiling.  Remove the jars (with a handler - they're HOT), and let them sit in a non-drafty area for about 24 hours.

Don't be alarmed if you hear popping - that's the lid sealing!  I usually wait about 24 hours, till they're all cooled, but take off the screw rings and check for a seal - if you can hold the jar up by the lid and it doesn't drop, you've succeeded!

SERVING SUGGESTION:  On ANYthing - especially homemade bread.  Or those biscuits a few posts back.  Or as a dollop in your oatmeal.

1 comment: