This summer has been a little different for us because of the large scale of our canning efforts, so we have found ourselves less able to do some of the things we like to do because we we’ve been so busy. We did make some time yesterday to go blueberry picking, though. My children love blueberries: frozen, in pancakes, in muffins, in smoothies, and in jam.
I actually only have one child whose favorite jam is blueberry, and it was for her that I went through the trouble of making it. We decided this time to try something a little different: we pureed the blueberries before we cooked them. While we love the flavor of blueberry jam, few of the children appreciate the lumps. Even when we mash them well before we cook them, the jam is always lumpy. Not this time! Our jam turned out very nice.
We also made some peach jam this week. We have two peach trees—one is a Georgia Bell we planted years ago. It produces a white-fleshed peach that is so delicate in flavor. The problem is that the whole peaches and peach slices don’t hold up well to canning. Since my freezer is usually full of deer meat, we decided a few years ago to use our peaches to make jam. The Georgia Bells make splendid jam! We also have a volunteer peach tree growing in the vacant chicken pen. It must have grown up from a cast-off pit one of the children tossed a few years ago. We noticed it last year, and this year it had a good number of peaches on it. It is just a standard orange-fleshed peach tree, and its fruit also makes nice jam.
We never remember to spray our fruit trees in time to prevent worms, and we don’t really like the idea of chemicals on our food anyway, so our peaches are always wormy. Paring them is a delight–will it be clean inside, or will we need to cut out the worm?The nice thing about jam is that you need little pieces anyway. Sometimes it is a peach massacre just to get a little bit of flesh to use! Some of my more squeamish children prefer not to pare the peaches. I assign them clean-up duties instead. It’s funny how the specter of a mountain of dishes will help one get over a little squeamishness!
We also made some blackberry jam last week. We only did about two dozen jars–we somehow missed the height of the blackberries in our yard. We were so focused on the garden that we missed our own blackberries! There is a lesson in that. Thankfully we did get enough blackberries to make some jam, and it is really tasty!
We had a jam emergency earlier this year when we ran out of homemade jam for the first time in about six years. I went on a search for a decent store-bought jam. It is all either made of high-fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners (I call them both poison–it was funny to hear our six year old ask me if I was going to buy any poison jam for their PB&J. We got a strange look or two at the grocery store!) or it was just too expensive for our large family to buy. It seems making our own jam really is the only way to go.
I think we are finished with most of the jam. Grapes and figs have yet to come in, and chances are that my children will scope out some of both–they know every wild and domestic grape vine as well as every fig tree in our neighborhood. And they are not shy about asking! It is a small price to pay for some yummy jam. At most we will do a double batch of each, which is good–that is all the Sure-Jell I still have on hand.
If you happen to stop by during the lunch hour, you may just want to ask for some PB&J–it is a pretty popular choice around here! We are always happy to “jam” with you.