Blueberry Picking + A Mixed Berry Jam
Every summer since we have lived here in Iowa, we've visited the local blueberry u-pick farm, The Orchard on Sand Road. It's one of those places that we happened to stumble upon back when Tad was just a sprout, and I love being able to return with my basket each year for more delicious berries! It was a happy surprise to see this summer that they have a new website, and that they are bringing in even more u-pick produce and sharing the bounty of other surrounding farms at their market. We are hoping to do the same thing as we grow each year, as many of you know! I love that. Local food is so important, and while I could feel upset or competitive, I am SO happy that it exists. If more small farms began, we wouldn't rely so heavily on getting our food from places that aren't as healthy or happy as a bustling little farm.
This year was hot! So hot that we only made it about twenty minutes before giving up and purchasing berries that had already been picked earlier in the day. We wimped out! Tad was sweaty from running in the rows, and we were searching endlessly for the blue juicy goodness. The berries from The Orchard on Sand Road are seriously delicious, and I have not had anything better yet from any co-op or local grocery.
While I was editing these photos, I couldn't help but compare them to the first year we went when Tad was only one. Ugh! That little squishy baby. He's much taller now, with skinny legs and no diaper! We are getting there!!!
I decided to pair my blueberries with our strawberries from Berry Basket Farm in Iowa City. We froze most of them to save for smoothies and occasions like this. It was a perfectly amazing combo; so sweet and full of flavor. If I had bought any of these berries from the grocery the flavor just wouldn't be the same, I guarantee!
Ingredients + Recipe |
Original Recipe from Ball Canning - Makes 6 (8 oz) half-pint jars
- 4 cups mixed berries of choice (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc)
- 4 1/2 tablespoons fruit pectin
- 3 cups sugar or sweetener of choice
- Prepare your canning supplies. You will need: 6 half pint jars OR 2-3 pint jars, wide mouth lids and rings, a large pot with a lid (large enough to cover the jars with water), canning rack, vinegar, something to retrieve the jars from the pot (try using a jar lifter - my favorite!), and a funnel. All of these supplies are at the very least!
- Boil your jars, lids, and rings in water (enough to cover them) and about 2-4 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar for 10 minutes. The vinegar is to help disinfect and also prevents your jars from getting this weird white residue on them from mineral traces/salt in the water! If you want crystal clear jars, use vinegar!
- Keep them in the water until the jam is ready and make sure they stay warm! You will be more successful if everything remains warm in the room (no open windows!).
- Prepare your jam. Heat the berries in a large sauce pot over medium/high heat.
- Slowly stir in the pectin one tablespoon at a time. Bring the berry mixture to a rolling boil, hot enough that it does not break when stirred.
- Add the entire measurement of sugar. Stir in completely and bring the mixture back up to a rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
- Ladle the hot jam into hot, clean jars. Place the lids on the jars, centered, and screw on rings fingertip tight.
- Place the jars back into the boiling hot water bath and cover with the lid. Process for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, take off the lid, and let sit in the water for 5 minutes.
- Remove the jars from the bath and wait for the signature "pop!" of the lids sealing.
- Wait 12-24 hours and check the seals. If a jar did not seal correctly, place in the fridge for up to 2 weeks!
This jam is so easy to make and absolutely delicious. I think a lot of that has to do with where I picked them from! They're in season, picked at the prime moment, and grown just right down the road. I hope our customers feel the same way about our produce! One thing that I hope Tad never forgets as we visit our favorite local farms each year is that he has options when it comes where to his food comes from. We are so lucky to live in this little gem of Iowa, where fresh food is truly just right outside of our door. How blessed we are!