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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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Here’s the weekly vlog update for 18 July 2010 …

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With the spring cleanup of the landscape underway, I’ve realized that there is an abundance of good fire starting tinder all around.

The river birch out front drops a lot of small twigs all winter (actually year round).  It also provides an amble supply of loose birch bark which I can save for months worth of fires.

In the back, the white pine’s sappy pine cones, which dropped in the fall, are now open and dry.  In addition, there is an ample supply of small dry branches that were never pruned out.  While I’ll leave most of these in place to serve as an animal safe habitat, I can use some for kindling.  Some of the large twigs will work well for featherstick practice.

Thanks to the winter winds, there were strips of white birch bark scattered about the landscape.  While I wouldn’t remove any of the loose bark from these young trees, anything they naturally donate is much appreciated.

I’ve also saved the fluffy tops from the ornamental grasses I cut down a few weeks ago.  These wil provide a nice experiment to see how well they take a spark.

This past winter we lost one of our white pines.   I’m hoping that, since it died during the winter, most of the resin dropped to the stump.  If this is the case, there might be an opportunity to make some resin sticks from the stump.  The diameter of this tree is only between four or five inches, so I’m not sure if it’s big enough, but it’s worth a try.

However things work out with white pine, I should have plenty of tinder material to practice my fire starting  and bushcraft skills this spring and summer.  Fun times to come, right in my own backyard.

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I’ve got the first round of seeds started for the 2010 container garden.

The first set of seed starts includes several variety of tomatos, sweet and hot peppers, salad green blends, green beans, and zucchini. 

I’ll be planting some ever-bearing strawberries in hanging strawberry planters very soon.

I made the starter pots out of toilet paper rolls.  To make the pots I flattened the rolls, cut them in half, then slit the bottom into quarters.  This allows the pots to be assembled like little open ended boxes.  They are a perfect size for starters.

These little pots are free, easy to store, fun to make, and biodegradable.  When they get wet, they wick up water like a sponge.  Plus, you can write on them with a permanent marker to make them easy to identify.

I like to start them in old clamshell containers from the grocery store.  These little greenhouses make it easy to care for, transport, and water.

When the time comes to transplant, I’ll tear the flaps off the bottom of the pots and plant them in their new home or containers just as they are.

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The survival and homestead library

This week the postman delivered the most recent addition to my Survival/ Preparedness/Homesteading library.  It’s a 1999 reprint of William S. Wicks’ book “Log Cabins and Cottages- How to Build and Furnish Them”.

My copy is a nice little fabric covered hard bound 1999 version.   The original was published in 1920.

The book covers some basic design variations, steps, and considerations that one would use to design a cabin or cottage.  Topics include location selections, foundation, walls, beams, siding, roof materials, fireplaces, etc.

It’s full of wonderful hand drawn illustrations that are more informative than useful.  The floorplans that corner some of the prints are very small and provide only a basic insight of the cabin’s layout.

I bought this book on Amazon, from a 3rd party bookstore.

With shipping, it cost less than $8.  In my opinion, it’s worth every penny.

Here’s a link  for the paperback copy at Amazon… Log Cabins and Cottages: How to Build and Furnish Them

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On the way home from doing some last minute Christmas shopping this evening, I came upon a roadside situation that at first appeared to be an accident.

Fortunately, it was not an accident.  A college kid apparently slid through an icy intersection.  His car was hanging over the snow banked berm, just a few feet short of falling into a the ditch that lines a farm field.

When I came upon the scene, another college age kid was already tying a tow line to his 4×4 to pull him out.

I assisted by stopping and directing traffic while they finished hooking up and pulling the car back onto the road.  The unlit country road had a fair bit of traffic for this time of evening (18:30).

While I always have my emergency kit in my vehicles, this was the first time I’ve needed to use it in a rural night time situation. I don’t think I was nearly as visible as I should have been.

I think an investment in a couple of reflective worker vests for our two vehicle kits is in order. Harbor Freight has some for $4.99 each.  Cheap insurance!

I think I’ll pick up two for each vehicle, so I have an extra in case someone directs traffic from the other side of the scene.

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Today we received our first real snow accumulation of the season.  Nearly two inches, with more to come.

I really love snow and look forward to getting out and doing some hiking in it tomorrow, but that’s another post 🙂

This is a great time to assess the winter car survival kits and make sure everything is still in both vehicles.  This will also be a great time to confirm that the spare tires are both properly inflated in case of curb hits or flat tire.

For as long as I can remember, I have kept small ‘winter survival kits’ in the trunk of the car and cab of the truck.  These ‘kits’ consisted of the bare minimum for a Great Lakes region winter- heavy duty window scraper/snow brush, battery jumper cables, pair of leather gloves, wool army blanket, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, collapsible snow shovel, reflective belt (to be worn during roadside emergencies), shake-style flashlight, shop rags, can of sand, and umbrella.

Another important consideration that I’ll be doing this year (that I haven’t done in years past) is review the kits with my wife so she knows exactly what is and is not in the trunk.

I am, also, currently building some general purpose survival bags that contain fire building materials, cordage, simple tools, headlamps, cutting tools, etc. These will be part of the nested vehicle go-bags I’m working on.

These kits are being updated and expanded on a budget, so they will take time to fully develop.  I plan on creating a post with photos once these bags are fully stocked.

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