Preserving the Blueberry Days of Summer

Blueberries – By Robert Frost (excerpt)

Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb. Real sky-blue, and heavy and ready to drum. In the cavernous pail of the first one to come! And all ripe together, not some of them green. And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen.


My home bushes are seven chickens away from producing a crop (we are working on keeping leaves on) but I love blueberries by the cupful and feel a small twang of guilt buying them so cheap at Costco (but not enough to stop me in the off season).

Solution? ByBee you-pick blueberry farm in North Bend nestled up against Mount Si.

In a total of three hours I picked 20 pounds of blueberries: Blueray and Bluecrop – each with their own flavor profiles.

There is something soothing and centering about picking berries. It was a pleasantly overcast day and despite picking alone for most of the time (I was late to the party) there is plenty of entertainment. Did you know that blueberry bushes for sound proof booths? Of course not, because they don’t – but some people sure think they do. Oh the conversations I overheard!

There are many ways to enjoy and save the joy that is blueberries. If I had a nickel for everytime I heard “blueberry” uttered at ByBee…..

  • In your belly! (right off the bush too!)
  • By the fistful!
  • On top of yogurt, cereal, salads
  • Baking: bread, muffins, pancakes, scones, pies
  • Freezin’ for later
  • Dry, leather
  • Jams, jellies
  • Preserves, syrups
  • Pickles, vinegar
  • On your face! (oh, yes I did!)

Freezing:

Indication: for when you just aren’t sure what to do but you know the possibilities are endless.

Process: Wash gently, let dry out on paper towel and then place in a single layer on a cookie sheet with wax paper (not 100% necessary). Stick in your freezer (keep level!) overnight. Once frozen, bag up and put back in freezer. I apparently have only one cookie sheet with a rim, and used muffin tins to up my productivity. It worked out just peachy and they stacked quite nicely!

Small Batch Blueberry Jam (adapted from L. Ziedrich’s Joys of Jams, Jellies and Other Sweet Preserves)

LZ’s recipe is for huckleberries but the premise is the same: small batch, big flavor. Sometimes it is nice to not make gigantic loads of jam, especially if canning late night … Jams are also a good way to use up some of the more green fruit. Makes 1 ½ pints.

  • 1/12 pounds blueberries
  • 2 ½ cups sugar ( I have made with less, just know it might not be as thick – call it a “spread” then!)

Mash the berries with a potato masher or hand blender. Pour into a preserving pan over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir stir stir, until dissolved. Raise the heat a tad and bring mixture to boil, stirring almost consistently. The goal: a drop of jam mounds on a chilled dish. Ladle jam into prepped jars, add lids and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Blueberry Vinegar

This is insanely simple but an amazing dress-up option for salads, pastas and even sophisticated drinks. Most any ripe berry will do!

  • 1 cup ripe blueberries
  • 1 quart red wine vinegar
  • Sugar to taste (I omitted it and will add later, perhaps just before applying liberally to its final destination)

Place the berries in a sterilized glass jar or bottle. Warm up the vinegar (not boil) or add just pour it straight into the jar covering the fruit. Put on the lid (plastic best – I used plastic cling wrap and rubber band) and let it sit quietly in a cool darkish place for 3-4 weeks. When its timeout is up, strain out the fruit with sieve or cheesecloth and use as desired.

Pickled Blueberries (from rosemarried.com)

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar & 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup agave syrup (or 1/4 cup honey)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt (don’t want that icky iodine taste!)
  • 1 lb blueberries
  • 1/4 of a red onion, sliced thin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon whole dried allspice berries, 3 inches whole cinnamon stick and 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Prepare your jars and lids. In a small pot, mix together the vinegars, agave, salt, and spices. Heat over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, or until the salt is dissolved. Remove from heat. Pack each jar with blueberries and red onion slices. Pour the warm vinegar mixture over the blueberries. Use a spoon to distribute the spices evenly into each jar. Cap each jar and allow the jars to cool to room temperature before moving them to the fridge. The blueberries should keep in the fridge for 30 days. If you want to seal the jars, leave ½ inch of headspace and process in hot water bath for 15 minutes.

Blueberries in Lavender Vanilla Simple Syrup (from zoebakes.com)


This is basically a coldpack fruit recipe. You could hot pack the fruit too, but I am not sure the berries would have made it. Here is a site with more information of hot vs. cold pack methods.

  • Fruit or berries can be used for this recipe. The amount will be determined by the size and quantity of your jars.
  • Simple Syrup – equal parts water and sugar, amount will also be determined by quantity and size of jars.
  • Vanilla Bean, scraped (use 1 bean per quart of simple syrup) – I used 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste
  • Lavender tea or sprigs

Prepare your jars and lids. Make the simple syrup by mixing equal parts sugar and water. I started with 4 cups each. Heat over medium heat and stir to dissolve. Add the vanilla bean paste. I have an abundance of lavender in my front yard so, to make it “clean” enough for cooking, I decided to make a tea with boiling water. I think the greatest risk here is dirt and clostridium (yes, that is a BIG risk, but there is an antidote now! Living on the edge!) To make the concentrated tea I boiled a cup of water, added the lavender flowers to the tea pocket and let is steep a long time. At this point I added about a tablespoon to the syrup and tasted. I didn’t want it to go overboard but adjusted it to my taste by adding more. Pack the fruit into the jars – I mean PACK it in (like House of Pain – Get up, pack it in, let me begin!) It is quite amazing how much will cram in the jar. I had to redo a few jars as there ended up being so much space. Ladle in the syrup, remove the air bubbles. Put on the lids and gentle agitate it by turning it end for end to help get the syrup into all the crevices. Process in a hot water bath for 25 minutes or so based on size of jar. Please look up the processing time for your product in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving or other reputable USDA sites, since it does vary.

I froze the remainder of my simple syrup for either future canning, adding to a cocktail or perhaps a drizzle on a lemon poppy seed bread (yum!!)


What is your favorite blueberry recipe? I would love to give them a try!


Great sites to check out:

“Though we’re apart, you’re part of me still. For you were my thrill on Blueberry Hill” – Fats Domino

5 thoughts on “Preserving the Blueberry Days of Summer

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