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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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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Blueberry Day!

Saturday was a blueberry day! I started a bit early working on the blueberries I picked up on the foodie road trip. The kids were arriving shortly with the grandbabies so I knew there would be little time to spend on canning. It's always such a pleasure when the grandbabies come as the are all turning out to be real foodies not that we could expect anything different. For those who do not know we have 3 grandbabies, the oldest is 30 months, the second is 16 months and the youngest is almost 4 months. The oldest and youngest are sibs and the second is an only. All are just as cute as a they can be, simply adorable! Ok, so onto blueberries. Oh I should mention the two oldest grandbabies love blueberries!

blueberry fieldBlueberry Field

I mentioned in one post about U-picks. Pictured is a U-pick blueberry farm. Blueberries grow on bushes about 4' - 5' tall. As U-picks go this is rather nicely laid out with nicely grassed paths. Don't let that fool you. Sturdy shoes preferably with socks are a must. As you move through the paths picking your berries you will encounter dust and insects. You may even spot the occasional snake or toad. When you arrive at a U-pick you park then register to get your baskets. This does vary from U-pick to U-pick as some will simply weigh your pail then calculate the weight of what you picked and charge based on kilograms rather than L. You will notice from the picture there is no actual shading which means you will need sunblock and hat. I always advise carrying a refillable water bottle with you when you pick to prevent dehydration. The netting above the blueberries is to keep the birds from enjoying a free meal.

fresh picked blueberriesFresh Picked Blueberries

When blueberries are ripe they are a deep bluish purple with a dusty blue haze. They are firm to the touch with a sweet, almost tangy taste. Blueberries will keep well for several days after picking. For best canning results process the berries as soon as possible after picking for optimal nutrition.

Cleaning blueberries is quite easy. When you pick blueberries the stem may stay attached to the berry. Remove this while cleaning. Do not use any unripe blueberries that are more of a red colour. Any over ripe or squished berries should not be used either.

A bit of a warning should come with blueberries. The juice stains! I advise wearing an old t-shirt that you don't care about when processing blueberries and keep plenty of wet dishcloths on hand to clean-up any spatters as you go.

blueberry pie filling, blueberry syrup, blueberry juiceBlueberry Products

Pictured are 3 of the blueberry products I made. They are blueberry syrup (3), blueberry juice (2) and blueberry pie filling (1). You will note the jars are arranged from last to first batch meaning the blueberry syrup was the last batch out of the canner. There is a reason for this. The last batch is always closest to the canner to save on the distance I have to move jars. The jars are always arranged in rows according to what they are. I know what they are but using this method ensures that they are kept straight prior to labelling. As you can see in the jars these 3 products look quite similar!

The blueberry pie filling (1) is one you really will want to keep a few jars on hand. It's easy to make and tastes delightflur! As always please read the notes at the end of the recipes.

Blueberry Pie Filling
source: Bernardin Ltd. Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving, 2006. Toronto, Ontario. Pp.43.

7 c blueberries
1⅔ c granulated sugar
⅔ c Clear Jel® starch
2 c water
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon peel (optional)

Wash and stem blueberries. Bring a large saucepan of water to a rolling boil then add blueberries. Blanch 1 minute. Drain the blueberries [reserving the liquid*] and keep warm. Combine sugar and Clear Jel® in a large sauce pan. Whisk in the water and bring to a boil. Cook and stir until the mixture thickens. Stir in lemon juice and peel. Cook 1 minute. Fold in the blueberries mixing well. Ladle into prepared jars leaving 1 - inch headspace. Wipe rims. Adjust 2 piece lids. Process 30 minutes in BWB at altitudes below 1,000 ft above sea level. At higher altitudes refer to the processing times on the altitude adjustment chart.

*My Notes: reserve the liquid to make blueberry syrup

I canned one jar of the reserve blueberry juice to use for baking. Then I used the remainder to make another batch of blueberry syrup modified from the recipe in the Ball Blue Book. If you recall the last batch of blueberry syrup I made was from Jean Paré's Preserves. As always when canning you may want to try two or three recipes to see which one you prefer.

Blueberry Syrup
source: modified from Alltrista Corp., Ball Blue Book, 2001. Pp. 76

5 c blueberry reserved juice (from pie filling)
2½ c sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

Combine juice and sugar in large saucepan. Bring to a boil then boil 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice. Ladle into prepared jars ¼ - inch headspace. Wipe rims. Adjust 2 piece lids. Process 10 minutes in BWB at altitudes below 1,000 ft above sea level. At higher altitudes refer to the processing times on the altitude adjustment chart.

4 food lovers commented:

cassandrasmom said...

What fun to pick your own blueberries!

Lori said...

How much water did you use to blanch the blueberries?

Garden Gnome said...

Hi cassandrasmom :) It is indeed both fun and tasty picking blueberries!

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Lori, I used about 3 qts of water to blanch the blueberries.