I’m on ‘staycation’ this week. It’s becoming a yearly tradition, though it’s really less about taking a break from routine and more about the fact that my birthday is right next to the 4th of July and I’m not actually using a full week of vacation by taking it off. Kind of like a mini-holiday, I guess?
I spent the weekend feeling restless and somewhat agonizing over what I should do with my week of freedom. The weather here is dreary, with rain in the forecast daily. Not exactly pool weather. I stressed a bit about the rain, because who wants to be stuck indoors on what is supposed to be a relaxing vacation? But then I made the executive decision to not care about the weather. It isn’t something I can control. It’s also just rain. I’m not going to let some silly rain ruin my week, no sirree!
So this morning, bright and early and barely awake, I drove down to my friend’s house to pick blueberries. She has a very lovely blueberry bush that is just FULL of ripe berries, and she kindly offered to let me come pick them in exchange for giving her a jar of what I make. DEAL! I picked that bush for two full hours, grabbing every berry I could reach. Delicious, tasty, local blueberries. I’m in heaven, here! Then it was off to my parents’ house, where they have a little raspberry patch. Mom has already picked a lot of berries already, but over the weekend more ripened. And wouldn’t you know it, it didn’t rain more than a sprinkle the entire time I was out!
On the way home I stopped by the local farm store and bought myself some of those adorable 4oz mini jelly jars. I also treated myself to a new canning pot, since it’s my birthday week after all. :) The one I have been using I picked up at the thrift store for crazy cheap, but it is really quite large, especially when I’m just making small batches of jam. This new one I picked up is perfectly sized for jelly jars. I love my thrifted canning pot dearly, but I have to admit having something shiny and new is a nice little treat! I’ve felt like quite the little farmgirl today with my basket of berries and my canning equipment. I still have that dream of a farm. We still look around for the right house to come along. One of these days my farmgirl dreams will be a reality, I swear it.
I made, in all, 12 mini jars of jam, I have 4 trays in my dehydrator for dried blueberries, and I still have a gallon-sized zip lock bag full of berries in the refrigerator. I honestly can’t believe I picked that many berries in two hours. I started off with a batch of blueberry basil jam from Cupcake Rehab, which is an interesting combination in a really good way! Then I moved onto a blueberry citrus marmalade from SB Canning, though I cut the recipe in half. And then, in a burst of inspiration, I made what I think might be my favorite blueberry jam: Blueberry Muffin Jam. Yep, you read that right. Jam that tastes like a blueberry muffin. My super secret ingredient? Cake-flavored vodka.
Blueberry Muffin Jam (makes 4 4-oz mini jelly jars, or 2 regular 8oz jelly jars; adapted from Cupcake Rehab’s blueberry basil jam recipe)
- 2-1/3 cups fresh blueberries
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 c cake-flavored vodka
Cook berries, sugar, lemon juice, and vodka until mixture reaches about 220 degrees F (this isn’t exact – my thermometer never got that high, but I could tell from experience when it was ‘ready’). Ladle into sterilized jars, clean the rim if you need to, top with lid and secure band to fingertip tight, and process in your water bath canner for about 10 minutes. Pull out and set someplace out of the way to cool (and maybe cheerfully say “tink!” every time you hear one of the lids pop… someone please tell me I’m not the only one who does this!)
If you’ve never canned before and aren’t sure where to start, Ball Canning has a lot of good information. Also, Food in Jars. I promise it probably feels overwhelming before you do it, but after a batch or two you’ll feel more confident to start canning other awesome treats :)