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First batch of blueberry jam

First batch of blueberry jam

I LOVE blueberry jam! For several years I’ve wanted to try making my own but never tried- until now. 

Every year when fresh blueberries are in season I’ll buy ten pounds of fresh Michigan blueberries.  In past years I’ve either eaten them fresh or froze them for the long-cold winter. 

This year is different.  Not only have I dehydrated them to make blueberry raisins, I made my first batch of blueberry jam. 

There are many great resources and recipes out there, but here’s the process I used. 

My recipe only uses two ingredients, blueberries and sugar (no pectin, no additives) 

The recipe- 

approx 4.5lbs of fresh blueberries (processed in a blender until smooth, it nets nine cups.  Its’ really more like a blueberry jelly when finished) 

6-cups pure cane sugar 

Preparation- 

1.) Boil canning jars (my batch netted approx six pints) 

2.) Sterilize lids in hot water (I heard you want them near a boil, but not to actually boil.  Mine were removed from heat when they were just about to start a rolling boil) 

3.) place several large spoons in the freezer to cool (I used three, so I could test and retest without having to wait for the spoon to re-cool)  

note- before I started filling the jars I added the funnel  and jar tongs into the jar pan boiling water- to help ensure they were sterile. 

The process- 

1. ) Sort, wash and blend blueberries until smooth (like a smoothie) 

2.) Combine blueberries and sugar in med/large pan and bring to slow rolling boil, stirring frequently.  Keep boiling and stirring until the mixture thickens and some remains on side of pan when you stop stirring.  I let mine boil for a long time (I’m guessing about 1/2hr to 1hr, but I didn’t time it). 

3.) Test the mixture- scoop a spoonful of mixture and hold over a plate (not over the heat).  Let it cool for a few seconds and turn the spoon vertical.  If the mixture drips off quickly, it’s not ready- if it slowly runs off as a clump, it’s ready. 

4.) Remove jars from hot water and set on towel 

5.) Ladle mixture into jars- leaving 1/2 inch headroom (I tried to fill them to the bottom of the lid threads) 

6.) Wipe top lip of jar and place sterile lid and lid ring (hand tighten) 

7.) Process in a water bath for 15 minutes (starting the timer after the water returns to a boil).  Be sure to have at least 1/2 inch of water above the top of the jars. 

8.) Remove from water and let cool.  The lids should pop on their own as the jars cool. 

9.) After cooled, wipe dry and label jars. 

10.) Enjoy 

11.) Share with friends and family (or not 😉 

If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment.

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We have recently expanded our container garden to include some strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.

Last year I planted a couple of two-year-old blueberry plants, only to have them flounder through the summer and get nearly destroyed by winter-starved bunnies.   These both appear to have made it through the winter alive.  I’ve transplanted them into containers and will nurse them through this year.

I also had one surviving raspberry start we got from Burgess Nursery a couple years ago.  This start was a bare-root twig that didn’t do very well at our old extremely shaded house.

This past weekend we picked up some additions to the berry container garden.

We added a ten pack of ever-bearing Quinalt strawberries, a three pack of Mary Washington asparagus (which will go in one of our established landscape beds), and two very nice one gallon starts- another blueberry and an ever-bearing Rubus ‘Everbearing’ raspberry.

We found the blueberry and raspberry plants at Wal-Mart for $10 each!  They look extremely healthy and ready to go.  They must have just received the carts and didn’t even have them displayed.  In fact, the carts were full when I selected our stock.

For the strawberries, I used a  regular self-watering pot and an old nursery container with the bottom cut out, buried in the center.  This provides a nice two layer pot that should give the strawberries amply room to grow and hang down.  They are looking good considering how they looked when they came out of the $3.98 Home Depot package.

With  the warm weather forecast this week, they should have a good running start into spring…

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The warm weather has passed and the cold midwestern Autumn has returned.  The outside temperature has climbed to a balmy 39F.   What a perfect morning for a fire in the hearth.

Hearth

Hearth

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Purple Heart

On my way to work Friday morning the car in front of me had a ‘Purple Heart’ license plate.  While waiting for a traffic light to change, I got to thinking about what the medal was awarded for and how many live recipients might exist today.

Thanks to a quick wikipedia search, I discovered that the Purple Heart is issued for “Being wounded or killed in any action against an enemy of the United States or as a result of an act of any such enemy or opposing armed forces”.

I don’t know how many recipient’s are still alive today, but according to The November 2008 National Geographic magazine, there has been an estimated 1,333,277 Purple Hearts issued from WWII through 8/21/08.  The number issued during WWII comprises 964,409 of this total.

It’s a melancholy thought to contemplate the millions of personal experiences these men and women endured to be awarded their Purple Heart.   The millions of stories that were told and retold with pride and honor, and those that were never spoken of again, left to fade to a distant memory, hopefully never to be revisited.

This contemplation will forever change my perspective of the subject.

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Firewood

Filling up the firewood rack

Filling up the firewood rack

In September we had six trees taken down which provided a lot of firewood for the wood burning fireplace in our family room and the outdoor copper fire pit on our patio.

Thanks to a rented log splitter I was able to get the majority of the wood split.  I ended up with roughly five split cords.  Another session with the splitter should finish up the remaining two cords.

The most recent activity in the firewood project was to build log racks to store the wood for seasoning.

I contemplated buying some more hollow tube one-cord racks (like the two I already have) but I didn’t want to spend the money on something I wouldn’t need after this surplus of firewood is gone.

I ended up building them out of pressure treated 2×4’s and deck screws.

The final design is 4’H x 8’L x 16” W with a center cross-member, supported by a 4×4 (made from two 2×4 scraps screwed together).

The racks are surprisingly stable and rigid, considering the tops are open.

I plan on screwing tarps across the top to keep the snow and rain off of the wood while it seasons.  I really need to get this done before the snow flies.

The recent boom in firewood has really helped motivate me to have fires more often.  We’ve had three in the last two weeks.

—- If you enjoy my writing please check out my current blogging project at Enjoy Time Outdoors . Thank you .—-

Here’s an interesting book all about  woodburning- “The Woodburner’s Companion” by Dirk Thomas

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