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making blueberry jam with folks at wind hill farm

making blueberry jam with folks at wind hill farm

open-air canning demo

smile!

smile!

Since Can It!  was released last summer, I’ve been asked to do a number of canning demonstrations. I’ve been in a hardware store, a community center, my own kitchen — but never a setting as pretty as the one last night at Wind Hill Farm in Glastonbury, Connecticut. As part of their mission of community outreach and education, they asked me if I would do a canning demo. I packed up my canning gear along with two butane burners and set up shop in a lecture area situated among the many raised bed garden plots. It really was an idea setting for promoting local and seasonal produce! Six eager and willing students showed up and together we made a simple, but very yummy blueberry jam. Despite the threat of passing shower, we finished our jam and everyone took home a jar to enjoy.

blueberry jam

sea of blueberries

sea of blueberries

Ingredients:

  • Approx. 3 lbs. fresh blueberries, washed, drained, and crushed to make 4 C.
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 4 C. cane sugar
  • 1 box dry pectin
  • 1/4 teasp. ground cinnamon (if desired)

Steps

  1. Prepare containers and water bath canner.
  2. Measure sugar and set aside.
  3. Prepare the fruit; measure exactly; add lemon juice.

    can't you just taste it?

    can’t you just taste it?

  4. Pour fruit into pot and stir in pectin, mixing in thoroughly. Add cinnamon, if desired.  Add about ½ teas. of butter or margarine to reduce foaming (if desired).
  5. Bring the mixture quickly to a full boil (rolling boil that can’t be stirred down). Add sugar all at once, stirring well to dissolve, and return to a full, rolling boil. Be careful here, the syrup is very hot and can easily spatter.
  6. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Time exactly from when the mixture returned to a full boil.
  7. Remove from heat, skim off foam, ladle into prepared jars leaving 1/4″ head space.
  8. Process to 10 minutes. Turn off heat and remove canning cover. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  9. Remove jars from canner, place in a draft-free location to cool completely. Let sit for 24 hours.
  10. Test for seal (lids will be concave and have high-pitched “ping” sound). Remove bands, wipe thread. Label, date, and store for up to one year in dark, cool location.

blackberries–“luscious” doesn’t begin to describe these berries

You have heard me sing the praises of my own red raspberries, yes, and I’ve long enjoyed the wonderful blueberries that cover the hills in South Glastonbury, CT, but never  until this week have I experienced berries that were positively decadent.

on the way to the blueberries

We were at Belltown Hill Orchards, one of my very favorite PYO (pick your own) places in my area, with our grandsons, planning to pick their fantastic blueberries.  Usually we get to hop on their trailer and get a fun ride to the blueberry patch, but this day we were picking close to the store and just needed to wend our way through the blackberry patch to get to the blueberries.

row of blackberry bushes, beautifully tended, easy to pick

It was there that I was ambushed by a sight of such opulent abundance that I was stopped in my tracks. The blackberries were such as I had never seen, having only been exposed to the wild ones, which are large berries in their own right — certainly larger than red raspberries. Well, these cultivated blackberries looked like a snapshot taken from the Garden of Eden. The berries averaged in size easily over an inch and were dark, sweet, and sensuously juicy with almost a smokey undertone. Pop one in your mouth and your tongue is flooded with flavor. You pause for a moment and wonder if you are in an orchard or a vineyard for wine tasting.

so easy to pick!

I walked past the blackberries to make my way to the intended picking target: blueberries. They were wonderful as usual. In a short 30 minutes, the four adults and 2 children gathered about sixteen pounds. But I couldn’t resist the call of the blackberries. While the rest of the group stayed on task, I returned to the store for a different picking bucket and headed to the rows of blackberries.

a riot of berries

What a treat! Even if I didn’t ever eat any of them, just looking at them was a joy. How nature could produce such a joyous overabundance was amazing. But I did pick; I did eat; I was happy! I will return for more and have plans for a blackberry jam. Stay tuned.

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