Preserving the Season's Bounty: Blueberries

We recently made our 2nd annual trek to a local blueberry farm about 1 hour away from our home.  We choose this farm because although it is not certified organic, they use organic practices (i.e. they don't spray, so there are a lot of tall grass and weeds, but we don't care!)

We have really enjoyed going to this farm for the past two years. Last year and this year we took a long the book, Blueberries for Sal. Taking this book (and the kids' own tin pails!) while we went blueberry picking last year made such an impact on them that they remembered to take the book this year!

The kids could even recall bits of the story. And, honestly, we've only read it about 5 times since last year (as part of our BFIAR for preschool.) It reminded me how the more activities you can relate to literature, the more of an impact it will have on these young minds!

I remember in college, one of my Children's Literature teachers read the book, Bread and Jam for Francis to us (see, even I can recall which book she read to us because of the experience that accompanied the reading of the book!). Afterwards she had us make jam sandwiches outside. We then learned how to teach our future students how to dictate to us what they learned from the story and then write it out for them. 

Here are a few pictures from our wonderful little day...

Carlee checking on the status of her berries. 5 berries in...then 3 berries out and into her tummy...:)
Some of the picking team!

Fun picture!

Aren't those some cute blueberries?? :)

Some little sweet pea just woke up. :)

We love to be together!
So, after our picking, then came time for the preserving. Honestly, I don't do anything fancy with blueberries. We picked about 12 1/2 lbs. (only $1.90/lb!) so far this year. (We might go back for more...) Of those 12 1/2 lbs., some were just eaten fresh, others were frozen for smoothies and a small batch was dehydrated.

To freeze our berries, I first rinse them (you can also spritz them with vinegar or peroxide if you want to). After letting them drain, I lay them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, then pop them in the freezer a couple hours until I have time to get them out (really, you would only need to leave them in there a couple hours).

Afterwards, I removed them from the freezer and put them in a freezer bag. Pretty easy. :)

As I mentioned, I also dehydrated some this year. With the small batch that I did, I blanched them first and then dehydrated them.  I prefer the taste of these better than just dehydrating them like I've done before. If you dehydrate them without blanching them they turn out a little more crispy and snappy.

I would also love to try this recipe from Keeper of the Home. I thought I'd include it in case you wanted to try as well!

Blueberry Sauce
3 cups blueberries, washed, with stems removed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons molasses
¼ to ½ cup of sucanat
Juice of 1 lime

Rinse berries and place in a medium saucepan. Add molasses, cinnamon, and ¼ cup sucanat. Bring to a boil, stirring now and again. Once the berries are soft and have released their juices, taste to see if more sucanat is necessary and add accordingly. Pour in the lime juice and stir.

Strain out the berries if you like a thin syrup, or leave the berries in for a thicker sauce with texture. Serve warm or chilled.

I hope this tastes like this blueberry sauce my mom gets us for Christmas sometimes. I LOVE it!

What preserving have you been up to lately? I can't wait to post about canning salsa (one of my new favorite hobby's thanks to Alison from Canning Crafts on etsy!)

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