on blueberry hill

What a way to welcome in the summer… Happy solstice!  The south finds blueberry season so much earlier than I am use to.  But I am certainly not complaining, it was just right for the day.  My boys were thrilled at every turn.  Christmas tree farm (holidays are exciting even on the first day of summer), golf cart rides, friends to frolic with, and of course, blueberries to devour.  So. Many. Blueberries.  Can’t say I am not paying for my lenience on the matter now.

The folks running the joint were extraordinary.  They gave me the low down on the history of their business endeavours.  People’s bravery never ceases to amaze me.  After living in their double wide, planting each blueberry tree and christmas tree as tiny seedlings for thirteen years out in middle of not too much Georgia, they were able to build a beautiful home on their land.  Mrs. Brewer refered to it as their “last house” so they wanted it to be just so.  And let me tell you, it was glorious.  The land around them was impossibly green and alive.  Quiet as a clam.  Still as the hot summer day it was.

They toured us around on their golf cart, letting Rowan drive who was absolutely beside himself, scoping out the best spot for us to pick.  Full of remedies, knowledge, and handy work were these two.  Between their ingenious hands free blueberry picking belt…

and remedies for spoiled fruit  (one part vinegar to ten parts water rinse) I was soaking up their every word.  Well every word that my two would allow me to that is.  Either way, I felt that southern hospitality sparkle on my skin.  This couple was just plain old kind.  The type of people you want to meet again.

We picked until there was no more room in our buckets.  I was reminded of this book many times as Miles peeked into my pail to get a taste for what was Mama had picked.  Of course, I swatted his hand away!  I had plans for my berries.  All the while Rowan was sitting cozy ravaging berry after berry.  Blueberry bushes.  Natures first babysitter.

When deciding the fate of those juicy morsels I could not think past last years blueberry peach jam.  But, this year I upping it a notch.  Drumroll….. Vanilla blueberry peach jam.  Yes sir.  This one is going to go down in the books.

First peel.  Immerse in hot water for about 5-7 seconds and dunk into an ice bath for a few minutes.  The skin will essentially just come off with very little effort.

Next, slice and dice.  I choose the coarse chop.  Some prefer the thin slice.  While some opt for the all out puree.

Add one tablespoon lemon juice per 4 cups of fruit.

Pour in ungodly amounts of sugar.  I would say 3/4 cup to about 3 cups of fruit.  I know.  I know.  Canning is precise.  But, the truth is I am not a direction follower.  Nor am I really much of a measurer.  (How can I possibly be a baker??)  Anyways, peaches are full of natural pectin.  So, in my experience, this jam is one you can estimate a bit.

Scrape a few vanilla beans in and let macerate overnight…..  More on canning adventures when I am done.

Pennsylvania Peaches

So it may only be August but hot dang I got my christmas presents done!  Would you like to recieve this as a christmas gift?  If anyone actually read this thing I may have some sort of giveaway type deal.  Regardless, this summer I have canned, crushed, chopped, peeled, and picked more than I ever have before.  Being that this is only my second summer canning I have still much to learn but I will say I am certainly improving!

Here are my tips so far-

– Follow the directions.  This may seem silly but I will be honest, looking back on my canning past, I realize I made apricot jam without even having a recipe!  The directions are straight forward and not to be messed with.

-No doubling, or tripling, or quadrupling…

-Do not attempt to can with two small children about to need a nap.  Canning takes a little time.

-Can things you know you like.  If your family really doesnt like beets by all means do not make your husband stain his hands red.  He will be very unhappy when you both come upon the uneaten jars more than a year later.  (I for one love them, just didn’t serve them enough I suppose).

-Ask farmers for seconds you can really save a bundle.  But, when doing this make sure they are still up to canning quality.  Peaches can have bruises, tomatoes can be imperfect but make sure they are not just plain old bad.

Thats all the tips I can think of.  The equipment is simple and inexpensive.  Go out and give it a try if you have not already!  Its awesome!

Today we canned the peaches, and blueberry peach jam too.  Both super simple, quick and easy too!  While doing this I thought it would be nice if when Rowan starts eating in a few months he had some peaches to taste as well.  So i froze some in cubes of crushed peaches mixed with the berries.  I believe he will be quite thankful for this summer delight when he is learning to use his choppers in the cold months.

Thanks to Rebecca for letting us pick some of your peaches.  They are so lovely!  And so are you!