21 July 2009

Weekend Warrior

All I wanted to do last weekend was make blueberry jam. My one lonely half pint of blueberry spice jam from last year had been emptied by January. I've been anxious to make some ever since. Summer's here now, so I finally made time last weekend for a jam session. I went to City Market, and lo and behold ... NO blueberries! By some ridiculous oversight on my part I have missed the height of the blueberry harvest.

I did notice one solitary blueberry in a quart of blackberries and when I inquired, I was told that there might be a few more blueberries next week, but that what few they'd had that day were sold out and that - in fact - it's kind of the end of the season. I was aghast. Didn't I buy some last August? I thought I still had more time this year! I went back the next morning and still no blueberries; another farmer said they've already had six weeks of blueberries and may or may not get more this year. It's really been six weeks already? How could I have missed it? How am I going to make that lovely blueberry spice jam?

In my sadness I bought 5 quarts of blackberries, 13 ears of corn, and 4 quarts of peaches. Not to mention the 4 pounds of roma tomatoes, a half pound of okra, some summer squash, potatoes, onions, and pecans that I'd bought at the Brookside Market. I pouted all the way to the grocery store to get my pectin; to console my longing for blueberry jam I decided to make blackberry jam instead. I ended up making blackberry preserves (actually more just blackberries in syrup) and then peach jam, too (very happily reminiscent of Mema's fried pies), and I decided to spend the rest of the weekend preserving everything else I'd bought.

frozen berries, blackberry preserves, peach jam, frozen okra, frozen squash, frozen corn

I blanched and froze most of the other veggies: the squash, the okra, the corn. I even used my new contraption, the Corn Stripper which works pretty well if you hold it right; if you hold it wrong, you won't like it one bit, I can tell you for a fact). My four pounds of KCCUA roma tomatoes are now approximately one pound of oven-dried tomatoes. And I only used half the blackberries to make the preserves - the other half I decided to freeze for later.

And then, when I went to stow my bags of frozen blackberries in the freezer, do you know what I found? Two bags of frozen blueberries from last summer (one was marked August 11, thankyouverymuch). Blueberries!!! I couldn't believe it. I still had plenty of pectin, so before I took down all my canning gear, I made one last batch of jam - the coveted blueberry spice jam. Four full half-pint jars.

Peach Preserves
4 cups sliced, pitted, peeled peaches (about 4 pounds)
1 package powdered pectin
2 TBSP lemon juice
7 cups sugar

Combine peaches, powdered pectin and lemon juice in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil, stirring gently. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot preserves into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust two piece caps Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

Berry Preserves
2 pounds berries
4 cups sugar

Combine berries and sugar; let stand until juices begin to flow, about 10 minutes. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook rapidly almost to gelling point. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust two piece caps. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Blueberry-Spice Jam
2-1/2 pints ripe blueberries
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg or cinnamon
5-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
1 box (1-3/4 oz) powdered pectin
Yield: About 5 half-pints

Procedure: Wash and thoroughly crush blueberries, one layer at a time, in a saucepan. Add lemon juice, spice, and water. Stir pectin and bring to a full, rolling boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Add the sugar and return to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, quickly skim off foam, and fill sterile jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. For more information on how to sterilize jars see "Jars and Lids," (FCS 8255). Adjust lids and process 5 minutes in a water bath canner.


Seana said...

Yet again, I must say...YOU ARE AMAZING! You, an inspiration I tell you, an inspiration. All that freezing and getting ready for winter, just inspiring.

I need to blog about some new stuff I have tried recently, I will after the dinner I fix tonight, promise. :)

Anonymous said...


Head WAY south on Holmes and turn right when you see the sign that says The Berry Patch (223rd street). You can buy blueberries by the gallon. But hurry -- the robins are eating them before they can be picked!! Blackberries can be picked on Tuesdays and Saturday mornings, but you have to go early (7 am!).

(On the way back, stop at Johnson Farms (180-something and Holmes) for some fresh picked sweet corn and u-pick tomatoes and peppers...)

heather g

LO said...

I was checking out the schedule for the farmer's market at City Market online tonight and clicked on the "what's in season" link. According to the little chart that comes up, blueberries are in season well into September.