Standing in sandy soil with the baby asleep on my shoulder and alongside my boys and mom, I was faced with rows upon rows of bushes dripping with ripe blueberries. Not just any blueberries, but Jersey ones. The best kind, in my opinion. Huge, deep blue and just perfectly sweet. And the ones that I remember from my own childhood which tips the scale in their favor every time.
We're armed with baskets and containers, a refreshed knowledge of what a ripe blueberry looks like (don't pick the green or red ones, boys!) and an eye to the pending rain storm in the sky. Let the picking commence.
Berry picking is something we started doing as a family when we lived in Washington. The absolute best blackberries grow in the Pacific Northwest and every year the hubs and I would head down Whidbey Island to Greenbank Farm and pick as much as we could. There were always tons of people so you had to get a bit ruthless about your picking if you wanted the biggest and ripest berries. As we've added family members and moved on from Washington, the berries have changed (it was mostly strawberries in California and Germany) but it's still something I try to do at least once each summer.
We happy to be lucky enough to be staying with my parents for a while this summer while in between homes (and countries!). So there was really not even a second thought when it came to choosing the berry picking. Blueberries. And of course with a couple of enthusiastic kids and an almost as eager mom and grandmother "just a quick trip because we have a bigger one planned next weekend!" turns into more blueberries than anyone intended. That's always the way it works, isn't it?
Not a problem! I have big plans for them. It started with jam that I couldn't help but throw in a few perfectly ripe farmstand peaches into. Then there was a galette that didn't last 10 minutes out of the oven. I think next up I'm going to take a page from Marissa McLellan's new book, Naturally Sweet Food in Jars, and jar a whole bunch in a fragrant honey syrup.
But first, the jam that almost started a fight between my sister and her husband over licking the spoon. That's how good it is!
Blueberry Peach Jam
Makes 3 pints or 5-6 half pints. Recipe adapted from Love and Olive Oil.
For the printable recipe, click here.
This a a jam that just screams summer to me. Yes, of course, you could use frozen fruit. But blueberries and peaches at their best make it special. Their seasons overlap and if you time it just right you will have an amazing jam. I tend to favor looser jams that aren't set super tightly, so I leave out pectin or any other thickeners. Just watch the jam carefully as it cooks. A few minutes too long and you'll go from perfect to jam that tastes a bit like a bad cough drop- overly sweet and slightly burnt tasting. You're looking for the foam on top to subside and the bubbles to go from large ones just around the edge to small bubbles on the whole surface. I didn't bother doing the whole water bath canning operation for this jam because I gave half to my sister and the rest is almost already gone at our house. I could honestly just sit and eat it with a spoon right from the jar. But if you do decide you'd like to keep some for the winter, simply process your jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Oh, and if you follow the link for Love and Olive Oil above, Lindsay has made some really awesome printable labels for your jars.
2 lbs peaches, about 5 large
3 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and any stems removed
1 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
Peel, pit and chop the peaches finely. Place the peaches and blueberries into a large, wide bottomed sauce pan. If you'd prefer your jam to have a smoother consistency, use a potato masher to lightly mash the fruit. Stir in the sugar and lemon juice.
Place the saucepan over a medium high heat. Cook, stirring frequently until the blueberries have burst and the peaches are soft. The bubbles on the surface of the jam will go from large and only around the edges to small, tight bubbles all over. Ladle the jam into jars and let cool. Refrigerate. The refrigerated jars will last for several weeks.