Louisa Enright's Blog

Mainely Tipping Points

Posts Tagged ‘blueberry jam

Turkey Tracks: Dehydrator Days

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Turkey Tracks:  August 22, 2013

Dehydrator Days

 

The hum of the food dehydrator is a constant sound in my kitchen these days.

The earth and the vegetable gardens are pouring forth the most amazing bounty.

I dried the mushrooms shown in an earlier post.  They filled all the trays of the dehydrator.

Dehydrator 1

But I also am drying cherry tomatoes to use in salads all year around.  These little nuggets are as sweet as candy and are so appreciated in the white cold of winter.  They don’t taste like any bought dried tomato you’ve ever eaten.

Dehydrator 2

My garden is producing a healthy crop of Sun Golds.  Hope’s Edge, my CSA, will provide some cherry tomatoes to dry.  And Susan McBride’s Golden Brook Farm, just up the hill from me, has luscious cherry tomatoes.

I also have discovered that drying zucchini–and even excess cucumbers–is a great way to preserve them.  Grating and freezing zucchini does not work so well.  The flesh gets slimy and bitter after a bit of time.  But the dried disks reconstitute beautifully if thrown into a soup or stew about five minutes before it is done.  Cut the BIG zukes into smaller pieces…

Dehydrator 3

I am also blanching and freezing the beans that are coming in like crazy now.  It’s easy enough to snap them, rinse them, drop them into boiling water for a few minutes (don’t let them get too cooked), put them into a baggie, and freeze them.

Beans

I picked up fresh blueberries from Hope’s Edge last week.   So I made jam from the uneaten and frozen berries from last summer.

Bueberries

Blueberry jam is easier than blackberry jam since you don’t have to pick them or deseed them.  Otherwise, the process is much the same.  I do grate the rind of one lemon into the pot–and add the juice.  Lemon perks up the blueberry flavor.  Blueberry jam needs a bit more sugar than the blackberries as the blueberries don’t have as much pectin.  This jam is a bit looser as a result, but that’s ok.  It’s great over ice cream, in smoothies, over pancakes, and so forth–and the flavor is lovely.  It tends to get stiffer in the cold of the refrigerator.

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One of the deep pleasures of my life is harvesting and preserving the food that the earth offers us.  It is the most satisfying feeling to know that I have these “assets” in my pantry to be enjoyed all winter and into the long Maine spring when we are so hungry for fresh greens.

But, let’s face it.  Feeding people really good food–and eating it myself–is one of the things that I most like to do.

Turkey Tracks: Blueberry Jam

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Turkey Tracks:  November 13, 2011

Blueberry Jam

Talula is coming for Christmas.

Talula loves blueberry and blackberry jam.

This year she’s going to get POPOVERS with her homemade jam.

Popovers are dead easy:

Put the following combination of flour, eggs, milk, and salt into a blender, blend it up, and pour the mixture into butter-greased TALL popover forms–filling each 3/4 full.  (If you don’t fill the form 3/4 full, the resulting popover is mostly air inside the crust, rather than having a middle that is still soft and yummy and altogether satisfying.)  I have two popover pans, each with 6 forms.  They look like big muffin tins–only each stands alone since the rising popover needs a lot of space around it.

This recipe is for about 9-10 popovers.  You can halve it, or add to it, for 12 popovers.  If you like cheese popovers, throw some cheese in–about a cup I’d say, for 6 popovers.

4 eggs, 2 cups of AP flour, 2 cups of milk, some salt.

For 12, I’m going to try 6 eggs, 3 cups each of flour and milk, and salt.

Easy, right!

Yes, it’s a white flour-based recipe, but I use really good eggs and our raw milk, so I think it’s ok to have popovers as a special treat.

Here’s a picture of cold cheese popovers–which we ate with our dinner after having their mates for breakfast.   They do shrink a bit when cooling.  So, eat them HOT–and 2 of them with butter and jam is a filling breakfast.

As for the blackberry jam–there is one jar to spare before next summer, when there will be one more.  Talula comes in July, and the blackberries are ripe in August, so we have to hoard and parcel out what’s left of the jam on hand–especially since 2010 was very dry and as this year we didn’t get any blackberries as it was the year to cut back the patch and let it grow anew.a

As for blueberry jam, I’m all set for Talula–and her father, mother, brothers, and sister:

Making blueberry jam is easy.

You just fill a heavy pan about 1/2 full of organic berries.  (We have the tiny, very flavorful Maine blueberries–and you can take “wild” out of that title since they are VERY cultivated.)  I use about a cup of sugar to 3-4 cups of berries, and I grate in the rind of one lemon for a batch this size.  Sometimes I add the juice too, but go slow as the mixture can get very lemony.  Taste the jam as you go along–if it isn’t sweet enough, add more sugar.  But, start with less since too much sugar really ruins the whole batch.

Then, you just cook it down until the juice begins to jell on the spoon you use to stir it with every now and then.  You can see that the mixture is bubbling pretty hard.  Let some of the juice dribble on a plate, let it cool, and you can tell if the juice is starting to thicken up.  You really don’t want blueberry jam to get too thick, so I fall off on the side of a looser jam that isn’t overly cooked to death.   (With blackberries, I am more particular and do use a candy thermometer–but that involves figuring out what the jam point is in your area, which involves how above sea level you are, and so forth.  Any good canning book–like the Ball Canning Book–can walk you through that exercise–and it is a good thing to do.)

It really helps to have a canning funnel when you start to put the jam into clean Mason jars.  The wide mouth accepts a full ladle of hot jam, and the small bottom keeps it all going into the jar.  Here’s what one looks like:

 O

Once you start to make jams and jellies, it’s hard to go back to the store bought.  Most of them are so full of pectin that they taste like rubber.   If I’m going to eat that sugar, I at least want to have it accompanied by real fruit, not by fillers.

I put the hot jars upside down–which helps the top to form a vacuum–until they cool–as you can see from the picture.

Written by louisaenright

November 13, 2011 at 1:30 pm