Oh the possibilities of July. The berries are in full force with perfected sweetness, vibrant colors, and flavor oozing with every drop of juice. I had to get my hands on some, so I went to two different UPicks. River Bend Farm and Pleasant Hill Orchards is a great little farm that uses Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM is the farming process where many steps are taken to keep infestations at bay, using organic practices, and, at the very last straw, using pesticides. While this is not completely ideal, I spoke with the farmer and she said that she did not have to spray that year. I have talked about this before, but this is one of the choices one must take when eating locally and on a budget. The strawberries were about $1 a pound, had not been sprayed, looked healthy, so I decided to support the farm. I got about 20lbs of strawberries, some happy duck eggs, and as we were leaving, the owner came out and gave us a strawberry pie. Very sweet farmer and in a beautiful location.
The second farm is Detering Orchards (which I have mentioned before). They have a similar viewpoint as River Bend Farm. The blueberries are no spray, and the peaches and cherries are occasionally sprayed before the tree fruits.
Another point I want to make about the jammin’ season is that I use Pamona’s Universal Pectin. This pectin is great because it does not require loooadddss of sugar to make it solidify. Pamona’s includes a packet to make calcium water, which is added to the fruit mixture, and acts as a helper to the pectin in the thickening process. No sugar necessary.
Honey Orange Strawberry Jam (about 8 pints)
- 16 c strawberries
- 1/2 c lemon juice
- 1 T orange extract
- 2 c honey
- 1 c sugar
- 1 packet Pamona’s Universal Pectin
Directions: Cook down the strawberries in a pot with lemon juice and orange extract until thick and jammy (I like to blend the fruit up with a stick blender, but if you like thicker chunks you can just mash them with a potato masher). Add the honey, and (you will want to read the direction on the Pamona’s packet) add the proper amount of calcium water. Let simmer 5-10 minutes to bring all flavors together. Mix the proper amount of pectin with the remaining cup of sugar. Bring the jam to a boil and add the pectin sugar, stirring vigorously so that there are no chunks of pectin left floating around. These chunks are not pleasant at all. Let boil for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Immediately pour jam into sterilized jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (for pints). Remove from water and let sit out for 24 hours before putting away or moving around too much.
Spiced Blueberry Jam (about 3 pints) adapted from Marisa McClellan’s recipe in Food In Jars
- 8 c blueberries
- 2 c honey
- Zest and Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 T cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4-1/2 tsp ground cloves (depending on how much you like cloves)
- Pamona’s Universal Pectin
Directions: Smash the blueberries and place in pot with honey (reserve 1/2 c of honey for later). Make sure you smash them in the beginning to get the juices flowing and so you dont burn your blueberries. Cook down berries with spices and Pamona’s calcium water until thick, simmer here for 5-10 minutes. Take the 1/2 c honey you reserved early and mix the pectin in. Its easier to heat the honey first and add pectin. Bring the berry mixture to a boil, add pectin honey, and stir vigorously until all pectin is incorporated. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately pour into sterilized jars. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.