Condiments/ Recipe

Summer in a Jar (Original Blueberry Butter)

Holy mama, we’re in for a treat today! Remember when I said someone special was coming to dinner? Well, it’s not so much that said person is coming to dinner, as much as she’s coming for breakfast, or afternoon tea… Either way, we’re lucky to have a visitor – Stacy from Seattle Seedling (crowd goes wild!)…

Stacy is a super chic, totally clever, avid urban farmer. I was so stoked when we agreed to combine forces and do a seasonal guest post for one another – each highlighting a seasonal dish that inspires our food imaginations. I’m pumped!  Stacy, take it away!

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Summer in a Jar
 
 
My friends know that I have a thing for blueberries. Opening day at the U-pick blueberry farm I frequent is really the first day of summer in my book. And when I say I go blueberry picking, I’m not messing around. I start out early, try to get there when the farm opens and preferably on a week day. I’m not a big crowd person. I bring provisions – water bottle (gotta stay hydrated) and some sort of protein to balance out the fructose rush since usually a lot of blueberry-eating-while-picking ensues. I bring my ipod – Zoe Keating’s albums make the best picking soundtrack. And so does Bon Iver’s new album.

I bring at least two buckets out with me into the field and I pick for several hours. The buckets with the ropes attached are the best, allowing for super speedy two-handed picking! Finally, these picking extravaganzas must happen at least twice in order to gather enough blueberries to get me through the winter.

Typically, my goal is to pick enough blueberries to freeze and be able to enjoy in my morning oatmeal everyday until the following summer. I picked about 24 pounds this year. And besides devouring them for breakfast, this blueberry butter is how I like to use them the most.

 

Blueberry butter is seriously like summer in a jar, with almost 2 cups of organic blueberries in every 1/2 pint! It makes a great gift too, especially if you doll it up a bit. It’s also the most tradable item in my pantry. When I told a friend of mine, also a canning master, that I was making another batch of blueberry butter, he said he would like to trade for four jars of it this year, saying it was one of the best canned items he’s tried. And that’s a lot coming from him – he’s got a pretty sophisticated palate. So believe me when I say that this canning project is worth the effort, even if you decide to keep all the jars to yourself.

Cardamom Ginger Blueberry Butter
(printable recipe)
Adapted from Food in Jars
Makes approximately 7 half pints

12 cups of fresh, organic blueberries
2 cups sugar (organic cane sugar)
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
freshly grated ginger (about a teaspoon)

Puree the blueberries in a food processor until smooth – I had to do this in two batches. Put the blueberry puree, sugar and spices in a stockpot, mix to combine and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about an hour, until the mixture has cooked down and is dark and smooth. Make sure to stir often so the mixture does not stick or burn.

Ladle the blueberry butter into your sterilized mason jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.

Wait for the jars to set and cool (24 hours), check the seals, and proceed to let your inner-Martha run wild. Doll up those jars!

 

Labels:
Sticky labels are very convenient and can often be pretty cute, but with one sheet of labels, your creativity can be kind of limited. Plus, if you stick those babies on the jar, your butter recipients or you will have a hell of a time getting the damn things off the jar and those jars are reusable (assuming they’re not cracked or chipped, of course). Not only that, the flat lids (not the rings) can only be used one time once they’ve been sealed to a jar via the canning process, so it makes so much more sense to put the label there.

So, from now on, my new canning labels will be punched paper and a glue stick. A quick trip to the craft store got me two paper punches (On sale! Yipee!), one round circle punch and one with fluted edges. If I could have afforded it, I would have bought another fluted punch just a bit smaller than the other for super cute, multi-colored paper layering.

Food for Thought  – Color wheel 101: A color wheel can help you decide what color combinations will work best and how you can make something really stand out. If you combine two colors opposite each other on the color wheel, like my jar above with the yellow circle on the blue label, those colors will really pop. Those colors are complimentary colors. So, combine colors on opposite sides for more drama and attention-getting.

As an alternative, colors that are closer to each other on the wheel, in the same color families, will go well together, but will have more of a blending effect rather than one color standing out against another.

 

Bunting: I have a thing for bunting. You know, the adorable, folksy pendant banners people hang for festive occasions? Well, it’s easy to make canning jar bunting. Just cut a piece of cute baker’s twine or sting, use your new circle punch to cut out several circles in fun colors and patterns, fold them in half over the twine, put a little glue stick action on the inside of the circles to hold the two halves together, and then put the lovely chain around the mouth of the jar. It’s a little tricky to get it to stay up around a wide mouth jar, but if you can find a jar that tapers in a bit to a regular size mouth, you’ll really be in business!

Fabric: I love fun fabrics, especially when they’re adorning a mason jar. This is purely for gifting, as the fabric doesn’t actually serve a purpose. In fact, canning jars are better stored without the ring in place. So doll up your jar to give it away. I do this the easy way, no sewing required. For wide mouth canning jars, cut out a 5in x 5in square. Cut the fabric with pinking shears for added flair. Place the square over the flat lid and then screw the band into place. This requires a little maneuvering, but it will happen.

Tags: Finally, no gifted jar is complete without a tag. I got most of my tags from an office supply store except for the super cute graphic ones, handmade by my bff. Use a hole punch to pierce a hole in one of the corners of your fabric canning jar toppers and thread one of the key ring-like labels through the hole. The plain old string swapped out with some fun colored ribbon or baking twine makes the simple manila labels even cuter and more personal. Plus, then you can cut the string to size so it fits around the mouth of the jar. Address it to a worthy recipient (e.g. Kristy) and send it on its way.

Happy summer! – Stacy

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    kyleen
    August 10, 2011 at 2:00 AM

    I’ve tried apple butter before, but I’ve never heard of blueberry butter. It sounds delish.

    By the way, your jars are so cute (:

  • Reply
    Kristy Lynn
    August 10, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    @ kyleen: me either! I can’t wait to get mine in the mail!

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