Last year I discovered how much fun it can be to can my own fruit. It was a lot of hot work, but my friend Angela, her daughter Stephanie, and I made up quite a large batch (think 15+ quart jars) of strawberry jam. It was a big task for first time canners. Our family went through our half of the jam in about 4 months because we found every excuse to add strawberry jam to our meals.
Then, in the fall I was inspired to make my own apple butter. I tweaked a recipe I found on-line by adding more spices. Without a doubt, I made the best apple butter I had ever had. Using my crock-pot made it easy-peasy too!
For this year, I want to do the strawberry jam again, but I haven't found strawberries cheap enough. Over spring break though, I did find U-Pick blueberries for $10 a gallon. This is a steal given that a small pint is worth $3 at the grocery store. After hanging out in the blueberry patch for 30 minutes or so, and with the help of friends, I had my gallon of berries.
The blueberry fun started with muffins. They were awful. While some kitchen staples are fine past their due date, shortening isn't. My shortening was rancid and no matter how sweet the blueberries were, they couldn't over come my shortening falls. (hahah... I crack myself up!)
I still had the baking bug and wanted to get those plump berries into my oven so I found a recipe for Blueberry Buckle in my Disney Kid's cookbook. (As a side note, this book was a wedding present from my friend Stephanie Aho almost 10 years ago!) This came out much better and kept me happily in blueberry baked goodness for several days.
Once the baking bug had worn off, it was time to can me some jam. I followed the recipe on the Sure-Jell pack and it came out perfect. Of course, how can anything less than 4 cups of sugar and 4 cups of blueberries be less than perfect? I only have 3 1/2 1-quart jars of this though, so I might have to go and pick some more blueberries.
Photos (taken with my cell phone):
- Top Left - Me picking blueberries. Don't I look cool in my shades?
- Middle Right - Carolyn picking blueberries. Her shirt matches. L)
- Bottom Left - Sandy picking blueberries. She'll probably be happy that you can't see too much of her... she doesn't seem to be fond of having her picture taken.