BY DEBRA J. MORRIS
Blueberries are one of the delights of early summer. Their beautiful blue color means they’re ripe and ready to eat. The shrubs are harvested by hand five or six times throughout the season at the firm, ripe stage because blueberries do not ripen once picked.
The berries we enjoy today have ancestors in the wild blueberries enjoyed by Native Americans and early settlers, later domesticated and improved, becoming the large sweet berries we enjoy today.
These plump blue gems are well worth the wait. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. The flavor is sweet and delicious.
When selecting blueberries, look for those that are firm, dry, plump, and smooth-skinned, with a silvery surface bloom, no leaves or mold. Berries should be deep purple-blue to blue-black (except for the lighter blue Duke variety). Refrigerate them as soon as possible, unwashed. They will last for three to four days.
You’ll find blueberries from Smit Farms out of Linden. Their blueberries are the best, just-picked straight from the farm ! They offer varieties such as O’Neil, and sweet early-season variety; the Duke, a lighter blue and abundant variety; and Jewel, a high-yield, slightly tangy blueberry. So, from May to almost July, you’ll find delicious blueberries at the market, in varieties that can’t be found at your supermarket. They’re freshly picked by hand and brought to you each week.
Grab a big bag and make some blueberry muffins, blueberry cobbler, or a few jars of this delicious blueberry jam !
Blueberry Lime Coriander Jam
6 cups blueberries, crushed
4-1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons vodka
3 limes, using zest and juice
2-1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds, freshly ground
1 package low sugar pectin
Mix pectin with 1/4 cup sugar; set aside. Put blueberries in a large pot; add juice, zest, vodka and coriander.
Add pectin/sugar mixture and lemon juice. Bring to a full boil. Add remaining sugar and return to a full boil. Boil 1 minute.
Skim foam from the surface of the jam. Add jam to hot sterile jars. Fill sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Add canning lids and rings; process (boil) for 10 minutes in water bath. Carefully remove from water and place on a heat-resistant surface. Let cool. You can tell jars are sealed when you hear a pop of suction from the lids. Store in a cool dry cupboard until ready to use, then refrigerate for up to two weeks.