Blueberries and Peaches!

This time of year is so fresh, and my favorite time to eat.  Apples are starting to ripen, peaches are in full swing, blueberries are winding down but still around and fresh veggies are coming out of the garden left and right.  Wanted to share with you a way to preserve some of those blueberries and peaches.  Lets get to it!

How to Dehydrate Blueberries (super easy and excellent in mega-bars)

Ingredients:

  • Blueberries

Directions:

Last year I did this and is was a royal mess because the recipe called for blanching the blueberries for 30 seconds to puncture the skins.  I had blue juice everywhere it leaked all over every crevasse in my dehydrator and after cleaning up that mess I swore I would find a better way if they turned out good.  Well as it happens they were excellent, especially in the mega-bars They added really great flavor, texture, and as Huz’s says “a nice chew”.  So this year I decided to experiment and I must say was pretty excited when it worked…

  • I pulled a 1 gallon bag of blueberries we had picked and then froze a week earlier.
  • I spread out the frozen blueberries all over my trays, since they were frozen they did not stick together.
  • I turned the dehydrator on to my fruit setting, for ours it is 135-145.  Then left it alone… about 30-ish hours later we had perfect little blueberries all dehydrated, with no mess (alleluia).
  • Depending on the size of your blueberries it might take longer or shorter, I started to check mine after 24 hours.  To test if they were done I ate a few.
  • Once done I stored them all in a ziplock bag with a good seal after they were done.  See picture steps below.  It was so easy and it is awesome to add the variety to our diet.

  blueberry 1

blueberry 2

blueberry 3

blueberry 4

30 Hours later - Finished!

30 Hours later – Finished!

  

How to Make Peach Freezer Jam

Next strawberry this is my favorite.  I love mixing strawberry and peach in my plain yogurt for a bit of fresh flavor, sometimes I throw in a few frozen blueberry’s too.

Peach Jam is just like making strawberry but with a different fruit.  Thus if you need the step by step with all the tips please see the strawberry post but follow the “peach freezer jam” recipe in the Sure-Jell box for proper fruit and sugar proportions.  Few tips on the peach freezer jam:

  • To make peach jam follow all the tips you did for strawberry but follow the “peach freezer jam” recipe in the Sure-Jell box.
  • The one major difference is lemon juice.  You need to add fresh lemon juice, the juice helps to slow peach browning.  Make sure you use the fresh stuff here that reconstituted stuff you get at the store is lacking in favor and if you use it your peach jam will be lacking in favor also.  I know from experience…  I did it once a few years ago as I did not have lemons in the house and figured it was the same.  I was so disappointed in the flavor of my jam that year.
  • Remember to year date your lids to ensure proper rotation in the freezer.
  • Below is a picture of my finished product.

peaches 1

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions!  Enjoy ~ Megan

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Strawberry Freezer Jam

Strawberry Freezer Jam

This is a summer staple in our house now as well as for both Huz and I growing up, so the tradition continues!!!  Homemade strawberry jam with fresh picked berries…doesn’t get any better.  Just a warning, once you make this you won’t ever want to go back to store-bought, there is no comparison…

Strawberries in Michigan are still picking until the end of next week.  The season is a bit later this year due to the cold spring.  Usually strawberry season runs from about June 1 – June 25-ish in West Michigan.  Recipe difficulty rating: easy to maybe medium.  Lets get started…

Things you will need for a single batch of Strawberry Freezer Jam:

  • A batch will net you 5 cups of freezer jam, so wash, rinse, and set aside enough freezer containers, glass or plastic work fine.
  • Rinse thoroughly about 2 quarts of berries,  a batch usually uses about 1.5 quarts, so if you wanted to double use 3 quarts of fresh picked berries.
  • 4 cups of white sugar
  • 1 box of Sure-Jell… it’s a yellow box usually found in the canning section at stores.  Here is a link to the website so you have a visual of what you are looking for.  This blog post is simply following the recipe for “strawberry freezer jam” in this box, with a few tips thrown in for extra success!!!

Directions:

Rinse berries thoroughly, the last thing you want is sand or dirt in your Jam, gritty = not good.  We fill a sink with cold water, dump the berries soak and swirl them for a minute or two.  If the water is really grubby, we repeat until it looks better, it will never be perfectly clear.  Then we rinse in the colander for a final time. Once rinsed cut/hull the berries so the green little stems are removed.  See below.

Strawberry Jam 1

Then crush the hulled berries into medium size chunks with what ever tool you have, pastry blender, chopper, hand chopper, etc.  The larger the chunks the more in your jam, the finer the chunks the finer your jam.  Crush enough for 2 cups.  *TIP* Measuring is key to this recipe.  Make sure your measurements as exact as possible, this ensures the jam sets up after you add the fruit pectin (Sure-Jell).  Measure exactly 2 cups of crushed berries, and 4 cups of white sugar and combine into a bowl and mix to incorporate berries and sugar.  Steps below.

Strawberry Jam 2

This next step is just as important as rinsing and measuring… you wait!  The sure-jell box of directions says to let the strawberry/sugar mixture sit for 10 minutes and stir occasionally.  We have found it is best to let them set for much longer, around 25-40 minutes depending on the berries “juciness”.  This longer resting time allows for the sugars to dissolve better, sometimes if you do not let this combo sit long enough your jam can come out a bit grainy from sugar.  So take your time here… clean up some of your mess, prep your freezer jars,  and stir occasionally until it looks good and clear.

Next step is to open your box of Sure-Jell fruit pectin and follow the directions:

  • Stir on box of sure-jell pectin and 3/4 cup of water in a small saucepan.  (The pectin may start out a bit lumpy) Bring to a boil on a high heat, Boil for 1 minute stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and pour into your berry/sugar mixture that has been sitting for a good 25 minutes.  Stir constantly for 3 minutes, this step also helps to dissolve any of the remaining sugars to eliminate “grainyness”

Strawberry Jam 3

Once you have stirred for at least 3 minutes it is time to pour into your freezer jars.  See below

Strawberry Jam 4

Once done pouring, cap, and let sit out on your counter for 24 hours this helps to set the pectin, then freeze until ready to use.  This stuff will stay good up to 2 years in the freezer.  Don’t forget to sample some of the fruits of your labor.  It is delicious and so so fresh when first made!  YUM!

Strawberry Jam 5

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions!  Enjoy ~ Megan