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Monday, August 19, 2013

Blueberries, peaches and raspberries...Oh My

This has been an amazing season in the North East for blueberries.  I don't remember one this long.  The first time I went blueberry picking was at a small farm and I was just looking for enough to make some blueberry muffins for friends who were coming to see my new place.  It was a bit difficult as my walker doesn't do heavy undergrowth that well, but it was also fun.  Below is my haul and the muffins.

Well, then my sister calls and says "you are coming berry picking with me".  OK.  The place she goes has blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and peaches.  We went for blackberries, which were not ready yet, and blueberries.  I decided I wanted peaches too.

I decided to do the blueberries in a light syrup (1 part sugar, 2 parts water) because I want to use them later for baking.  I got three quarts of blueberries.  I then turned to the peaches.  Preserves, that sounded good.  Well, you have to peel and pit the peaches for preserves.  So, into boiling water for a minute they go, then into a cold water bath.  Most of them just slipped out of their skins, some I needed to take a good paring knife to get the skins off.  Then cut in half or quarters to get the pit out.

Dice them up, and into a large pot with sugar and some pectin (I used powdered).

Boil for a few minutes and into half pint jars.  A word here on canning jars.  I tried the Mainstay jars as they were a dollar cheaper and there were three more jars in the box...never again.  I had a few that didn't seal and that has never happened with Ball jars.  I'll stick with the Ball brand thank you.  I had a few peaches left over from the preserves recipe so I put them in a quart and a half jar with a light syrup.

Then my sister calls again.  Can you tell we come from the same family.  This time we were hunting the elusive blackberries.  I don't like blackberries, but said I'd help pick for her if she would help me get more peaches.  I wanted to try a Honey Spiced peaches recipe.  What the brat (yes, she is my older sister by a year and a half) didn't tell me is that blackberry bushes have HUGE thorns!  Yikes...several scratches on my legs and arms later we had a good haul of blackberries for her and more peaches for me.

The Honey Spiced Peaches recipe I have said to leave the fruit whole.  Well, all I could think of was trying to pit them after they have been in a honey syrup for several months...slippery.  So I decided to pit them.  The spiced part is whole Allspice, whole Cloves and Cinnamon sticks.  The honey syrup is 2 parts syrup to 1 part sugar.  I used pint jars here.

Off to the PYO farm again, this time for raspberries (the second crop was ready) and more peaches for more Honey Spiced peaches.  I also picked a small amount of blueberries as I want to make a blueberry cheese tart for Labor day

This time the peaches were persnickety.  I had to peel a lot more with a knife and they were more difficult to get out the pit.  Oh well.  I got five pints of peaches done.

The raspberries were for raspberry/jalapeno jam.  Five cups of mashed raspberries, three and a third cups of sugar and three jalapeno peppers, one and a half seeded, the other one and a half seeds and all, diced.  If the scrapings from the pot are any indication this came out fantastic.

I would like to go out for more raspberries for regular raspberry jam.  I'm done now until apple season kicks in.

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