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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Organic Produce & Freezing Blueberries

Last Thursday I had to take a short road trip and as always I was on the look-out for places to stop for farm fresh produce. Even though the kitchen is not functional at the moment if I really had to I could can a batch of jam or prepare a small amount of food for freezing using the side burner on the outdoor grill. I stopped in at an orchard on the way home to find that the orchard is now owned by the same owners who operate two nearby health food stores. Everything is being grown using organic methods. The produce is chemical and pesticide free. Not only that but they are supporting local organic growers by buying produce they do not grow from them and selling it in their store. They have two key criteria that must be met. First the produce must be chemical and pesticide free, grown using organic methods. Second the produce must be local grown. I'm elated! One of the organic farmers I bought from decided there was no longer enough money in organic farming so has moved on leaving me looking for other organic growers.

How does this relate to this blog? Anyone who has been following this blog knows that I grow as much as possible using organic methods in raised gardens planted in the square foot gardening method using companion planting. What produce I can't or don't grow myself, I prefer organically grown local produce. Organic means I'm not getting those chemicals I work so hard to avoid. Locally grown means lower prices and keeping local area farmers aka friends, family and community members earning an income to support their families. This results in a stronger community. So the short answer is organic, locally grown produce fits in with my value system.

Organic Berries

Pictured are the organically grown blueberries, blackberries and raspberries I purchased. Now what I noticed is the organically grown raspberries were $1 per quart cheaper than where I normally buy them. Now I'm hit with a delimna as where I normally buy them is considerably closer to where we live. It is a small mom & pop operation and we know the family. What I will end up doing is supporting both as you really can't have too many raspberries.

The organically grown blackberries are huge! They have a wonderful flavour as well. The first quart is destined for topping plain homemade yogurt for breakfast. I will pick up enough for low sugar blackberry jam my next trip. I will also be picking up other berries to make a low sugar, tri-berry jam.

Blueberries are one of the healthiest berries you can eat. They are rich in anti-oxidants that neutralize the damaging free radicals in your body. The organically blueberries are large and sweet. At $4 per quart they are less expensive than those in the grocery store! I will be buying blueberries for canning syrup, jam and pie fill but blueberries are ever so easy to freeze!

Method: Pour ripe, unwashed blueberries onto a sided baking sheet in a single layer. Flash freeze. Pour the desired amount (1 c or 2 c) frozen berries in a vacuum freezer bag or zipper style bag. Vacuum seal. To use, pour the berries into a food strainer. Rinse with cold water then use in your recipe of choice.

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