Monday, July 18, 2011

Blueberries and Books

Saturday I was in Dallas Pennsylvania and went to Dymond’s Farm Market for blueberries to take home to NJ. Dymond’s has had a farm on the rolling hills of Luzerne County for at least 40 years. I remember going out as a twenty-something to pick strawberries and tomatoes. They run a cute retail market and bakery on route 309 in Dallas which also sells country gifts, jams and candy. As I opened the door to go in, I was hoping to get the cherries that I missed buying two weeks ago. Alas! No cherries. What happened? The farmer told me the cherry crop was good, and just being picked when the huge thunderstorm and rain on July 3rd and 4th damaged the crop on the tree and the cherries split open. I kicked myself for not buying them when I saw them. Note to self: make a produce calendar and checklist to be prepared for timely purchases.
Now in the middle of July, raspberry season is also over, he said. This week they are picking beans, squash and blueberries. Coming right after that are the tomatoes and early corn. Hmmm. I picked up 3 quart containers of Dymond’s Farm blueberries.
I want to make a larger quantity of the Sweet’n’Sour Spiced Blueberry Jam that we made last week, to have some to give away.

I used 3 pounds of blueberries, 3 pounds of sugar, the cider vinegar, the lemon juice and the spices and the pectin. It seemed to cook up fine yet when I checked the sample,it’s not set right. A tablespoon of jam slides down the plate when it is tilted. I will let it set longer and try again. I may want to cook it again with more sugar to see if it will improve.
I have learned what I know from books and from experience. I think books are invaluable teachers. My oldest one is the Ball Blue Book of Home Canning and Freezing. It is a great basic book that covers all the fundamentals and teaches good technique. These are new this summer: The Better Homes and Gardens magazine titled "Canning" which has beautiful photos and tempting recipes; and "Blue Ribbon Preserves" by Linda J. Amendt. Her book goes into depth about the science of soft spreads, pickles and much more, and it has loads of recipes. Plus, as the title conveys, its goal is winning prizes, and to accomplish that, you have to be consistent, determined and ( I guess) willing to slave over a hot stove for weeks! Nonetheless, I am curious about the Middlesex County Fair. Besides the rides, are there farm and home competitions? I will check it out and let you know.
The pint of blueberries are from New York state. They are cute enough to be cooked in a pie! Look around for the farmer's market in your towns. Buy local and eat well!

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