Strawberry, Blueberry and Lime Preserves

Berry picking is much like one of the greatest moments in the Shakespeare meets modern American teenager movie, ’10 things I hate about you.’

No, really. Stay with me.

I used to love strawberry picking. Crouching in the straw-covered dirt, the wide brimmed hat on my head casting a huge shadow. Searching between the drooping leaves for those tender red berries. Watching mouds of berries stack up quickly in a flat. Feeling the trickle of sweat as the oppresive June humidity mixes with the gobs of sunscreen covering my exposed skin. Groaning as my aching knees slowly creak their way down the row towards more red, red berries.

 

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Strawberry picking in Washington County, New York

Wait, no. Those last two things I did not love. But walking away with 10 pounds of perfect ripe strawberries costing not much more than the price of running a load of laundry to get the dirt off my clothes? Yes, that very much love.

Or, I loved, until I went blueberry picking.

Blueberry fields as far as they eye could see, some planted in the early ’70s. Everything covered in the tiny water dropplets of a misting August rain. Plump dark purple, almost black, berries on every tall branch. Many more smaller white, green, pink and lilac ones still growing.

That Prada backpack, I am sure it was full of blueberries.

 

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Empty bird’s nest in blueberry bush, Saratoga County, New York.

This recipe yields approximately 2 pints of jam.

  • 2 lbs strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 limes, juice and zest
  • 12 ounces (1 dry pint) blueberries

Mix the cut strawberries, sugar, lime juice and zest in a non-reactive container. Cover, and allow to rest at room temperature for an hour or two, or until the sugar had dissolved completely.

Blend in the blueberries, and place the mixture in a deep saucepan. Bring the mixture to a strong simmer, removing any scum that may form. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and cook stirring freaquently, until a medium syrup forms.

The very easy jam freezer test comes in handy at this point, though my prefered method has always been dipping a clean metal spoon into the jam. If the jam just straight off, its not ready. If it sticks, and a finger wiped across the back of the spoon leaves a clean streak, its ready.

Pack into sterilized one cup containers, and hot process as needed.

The running jar count for 2016:

Strawberry, Blueberry and Lime Preserves: I’ve made this particular recipe three times. Blame the many berry picking opportunities in Upstate New York. 4 8-oz jars per batch. 3 batches x 4 jars= 12.

Jar total: 43 jars.

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