Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Blueberry Citrus Preserves - DIY Pantry

I am a berry fanatic - place a bowl of berries of any sort in front of me and witness the most impolite behavior imaginable. Mothers will keel over in shame, Fathers will shield their children's eyes, teachers will tsk tsk tsk at me. But nothing can deter me from gorging on berries. Maybe it is because they are truly seasonal, if you want to eat berries with flavor, which I prefer. There are only certain magical times of the year when blueberries are in season or strawberries lure you with their ripe scent. Limited windows of opportunity call for drastic action. Or maybe it because berries turn us all into little children again, savoring the perfection that is a berry - sweet juices popping out of the berry as you crush them in your mouth, with or without the additional fun of playing with the seeds as they get stuck in your teeth and roll around your tongue!

Of course the second best thing to fresh berries is making your own berry preserves with said fresh berries. There is nothing as satisfying as making something from scratch with the ingredients that you have personally selected. Preserves are the easiest way to extend the berry season, mainly because they do not involve pectin or gel points, terms that often send novice preservers running for cover. Preserves are simply fruit and some sugar cooked up with other flavorings if you so choose. Jar it, refrigerate it, and you're done!

Like so many homemade items, this recipe was based upon a friend casually noting what she did with a windfall of blueberries; boil them with sugar and whole sliced citrus until it cooks down into a preserve. It's a very similar technique to how I prepare cranberries at Thanksgiving, so it made good food sense to me. Whether you love preserves on toast or swirled into some yogurt and granola, this one is a keeper! 

Blueberry Citrus Preserves - DIY Pantry
(makes 3 jelly jars, 1/2 pints)

30 oz blueberries, washed and dried
2/3 cup sugar
1 valencia orange
1 lemon

Cut orange in half and pick out any seeds and cut two halves into thin (1/4 inch) slices. Do the same with the lemon. Add citrus, blueberries, and sugar to a deep sauce pan and bring to low boil over medium low heat. Turn heat down to low to ensure a low bubbling boil and cook for 60 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so until mixture reduces by half and citrus rinds cook down. Pour into half pint or jelly jars and cap with clean lids. Store in refrigerator, keeps for 6 months.


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