Sunday, July 02, 2006
What we do around here in Summer
We live in an area surrounded by fresh produce. Strawberries weren't great this year, but blueberries and cherries are bumper crops.
I love blueberries. They are easy to pick, store, and taste great. They have all kinds of wonderful health benefits too. I never ate them all that much before moving here though. Probably because they were very expensive, and really tiny.
Our blueberries grow big. I picked 13.5 lbs. in an hour. They grow in big bunches, and you can set your bowl on the ground, and use two hands to just pull the berries off the bushes. Once you get home, you can just soak them to get anything other than blueberries to float to the top (dead flowers, stems, leaves, bugs) and I do pick off the stems. Then you rinse, dry & freeze them in big Ziploc freezer bags. They are great to eat frozen, or you can throw them into pancakes, waffles, muffins, whatever. Fresh blueberry pie is fantastic, though I didn't make one this year. Diana wants me to try to make spiced blueberry jam this year too - but that can wait until the Fall, when it's not so warm in the house.
Connor just calls them "cold berries" and will eat them non-stop if I let him (I don't). He likes them best frozen.
Cherries are in season now too. I picked Bing Cherries this year. I think we eat the cherries even more than blueberries right after picking. Cherries are more work though. First you have to find a tree laden with enough at the right height. Then you have to figure out how to place the ladder so you won't fall over while reaching for the ones you want. I got 13.5 lbs. of cherries this year. Once I get home, I give them a quick soak too, but then I like to pit them. Folks around here will just can them with the pits, but I don't want to have to try to make a pie filling with cherries with pits in them. It's easier to just do it first. It does get messy though, though, because the juice sprays a bit when you work with a cherry pitter. I got through about 8 lbs., and then I got a blister, so Trevor had to finish up for me. I halved & froze most of the cherries, but I held out enough to make cherry jam. I forgot to put in the lemon juice, so these will be a little soft-set. But they are still fine. I will probably make more in the Fall.
I'll be drying apple rings next, I think....