I’m sure I’ve mentioned it times before, but I LOVE pick-your-own. The act of picking, searching, and being silent amongst the bugs, birds, and dirt is like meditation for me. A few weeks ago, I ventured out of downtown Durham, NC and headed towards Falls Lake State Recreational Area. GPS turned off, I cruised the back roads with the windows down and bluegrass music blasting. I came upon a perfect picnic spot, a good trail run, and some decent sunbathing. Falls Lake was amazing, but coming across a hand drawn pick-your-own (PYO) sign at the cross road of two country roads, catapulted my adventure over the edge. A familiar farmers’ market stand, I was surprised to find Lyons Farm in such an idyllic setting and so close to town. I thought, “12 minutes from home, why am I not out here every chance I can get!?”. I didn’t have much cash on me, so I went for some free crop info. and a strawberry cider. They ensured my return by mentioning their upcoming crops: peaches, blueberries, and raspberries!
“No really, I’m just going to stop for a second…”. 45 minutes past and 5 pounds of fresh blueberries later… “Having a pick your own (PYO) blueberry farm on my commute home from work may be becoming a problem…”. Over the past month I’ve probably picked around 15 pounds of blueberries from Emery Farm in Durham, NH. $2.50 per pound of berries sure beats $5.99 store bought sub-par berries especially when you factor in the additional pound of “I just need to see if it’s ready” berries that you sampled along the way (I swear I only tried a couple…). Three (cough… six) trips to the farm has made me realize how calming picking berries can be. I have a tendency to get distracted pretty easily… look… shiny… so zoning out while hunting for the perfect berry is probably good for me from time to time. Although the blueberry season here in New Hampshire is unfortunately coming to an end, the wild raspberries and blackberries are just starting to pop off! Late last month I put up several jars of blueberry sage jam, and as I was running out of pumpkin butter from last fall, I decided to fill the void with this crockpot mint blueberry butter. This recipe is super easy to modify in that you could simply swap out or omit the mint for any other herb/spice. I opted for a low sugar option (4 cups of sugar vs. 7 cups) as I wasn’t trying to mask the amazing flavor of all my tediously (OCD a little?) picked berries. The consistency of the final product is thick, smooth, and nicely spreadable. My plan is to use it my overnight oats. Yum!
I’m actually off to Emery Farm in just a few minutes NO not for more blueberries, but for this month’s Seacoast Food Swap!
It seems as if the majority of my latest canning posts have had some sort of adventure/exploit attached to them. Most likely attributed to the season, or perhaps because I have acquired tons of new friends who also enjoy farmers’ markets, pick your own harvests, and tipsy late night jar’scapades, I have recently been reminded of how much I really enjoy the process of this hobby. Earlier this month a science lady friend and I were on our way out to the Great Bay Estuary to grab some mid morning water samples when I spotted a sign that read “PICK YOUR OWN BLUEBERRIES”! “Blueberries!… (looking at my watch, knowing that we were already behind time)… we totally have time, right?!” “Um… right?… yes… let’s do it!” Purple fingers, full stomaches, and satisfied taste buds we justified our spontaneous blueberry detour to Emery Farm and continued on with our science lives. Located in Durham, NH, Emery Farm is one of the oldest farms in the country… we provide our customers with our own fresh fruits and vegetables… dedicated to maintaining a down-home, family farm atmosphere… Upon further discovery, I learned that the farm is the oldest working farm in the Northeast. Of equally exciting news, the farm has volunteered its space for the August Seacoast Food Swap.
While picking and jar’storming (I’m on a role with these word combos tonight…), I consulted my flavor muse who suggested a myriad of different blueberry herb pairings. The result: this beautiful blueberry sage jam. I’d be lying if I said “I didn’t eat all two pounds of these berries that afternoon” requiring me to return the next day for additional recipe ingredients… hard life. 🙂 Stay tuned for a couple more blueberry creations as you can bet that I’ve returned for more pickings since that said morning.
Do you know that awful sensation when you wake up with a dry, bitter, chalky taste in your mouth? The sensation that can only come from eating copious amounts of dark chocolate paired with whiskey, no water, and forgetting to brush your teeth. Good morning Thursday! Perhaps in the future I will control myself and not eat half the bag of chocolate chips… perhaps not. I flip flopped between several different fruit options (raspberry, blackberry, orange) before I settled on using blueberries in this chocolate jam recipe inspired by A Brown Table. As this was my first stab at making jam, I took extra care and caution to ensure that 1) I didn’t splatter berry juice all over the kitchen, 2) the chocolate didn’t burn on the bottom of the pan, and 3) the perfect jam set was achieved. As my taste buds were exhausted by the flavor of chocolate, I really couldn’t detect the fruity, berry notes of this jam before I canned it last night. Thankfully, my gracious host confirmed it’s fruity deliciousness with a subtle “mmmm…” when paired with dried apricots and Wasa bread this morning. Though this recipe was a bit time consuming, I assure you that drizzling this blueberry chocolate jam over some vanilla bean ice cream will prove the time and effort well worth it.
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