Thanks to a relatively mild and wet summer so far, the blueberry crop around here has been amazing. After last year–when a badly timed late frost took out most of the local blueberries–it feels extravagant to have so many wonderful local berries. This week, Maggie and I finally found some time to go and do some picking ourselves. We headed out to Philoxenia Farm, a local organic blueberry farm that donates a portion of their proceeds to the Human Kindness Foundation, which is right next door, and formerly owned the blueberry patch.
We lucked out with the weather. It’s been HOT here (high 90’s and very humid), but Thursday morning it was overcast and not quite so warm. In fact, we got rained on a little (do I sense a pattern here?), but not so much to keep us from picking, even without raincoats. I was reminded of the first time we took Maggie blueberry picking, when we were visiting Uncle Paul in Vermont. It gradually started raining harder and harder, and all of the adults were ready to go inside, but Maggie just settled herself under a tree and kept picking. She wasn’t quite so dedicated on this trip, but with the bountiful bushes we were able to pick about 6 lbs. before we headed home to turn some of those berries into jam.
We learned that the standard batch of blueberries is a big one–9 half pints!–so most of our berries were going into the jam. We chopped (in the blessed food processor, which has gotten a lot of play during this season of fresh fruits and vegetables) and measured and stirred and boiled and ladled and wiped and tightened and processed, with Maggie taking her most active role so far in handling the hot jam and jars. She especially enjoyed using the jar lifter to move the jars in and out of the hot water bath.
I remembered finding some blueberry labels I liked here, so Maggie and I used those templates to print out some of our own, with Maggie dictating the text. She carefully cut out and glued the labels on when they were dry, and is now happily planning who will be the lucky recipients of her jam! By midday Friday, we had already given two jars away. I’m trying not to be greedy about the jam, but rather enjoy her enthusiasm and appreciate her joyful generosity. Here’s a glimpse at the final product:
Yes, it’s true…out of my first four blog posts, exactly half have contained pictures of canning projects. There’s a lot of canning going on around here these days! And aren’t those jars so pleasing, all lined up and beautifully labeled? I just can’t get enough of it!