Country Living Series

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Canning blueberries

The blueberries are ripening late this year. Last year the first pick was ready by the time I got home from Portland; this year, I just finished the first pick this morning.

Because of the extreme heat we've been having for the last month, most of the garden work (picking, weeding, etc.) is being done in the very early morning. I'm usually out in the garden by 5:30 am or so for a couple of hours of solid work before the heat from the rising sun sends me back inside. (I'm a wimp in heat.)

But the bushes are bearing prolifically.


Because my picking time was limited, the first pick (meaning, the first go-round on all the bushes) took me three days.


I ended up with two bowls full.


Together they weighed 5.5 lbs.


I sat down to sort the berries. I plucked out flower ends (top) and stems (bottom) from various berries, though most were fine..


Lihn watched with great interest. She was scared of the berries at first because they rolled. (Remember, she's the parrot equivalent of a toddler.)


She finally grew brave enough to try one, though she did little more than gum it.


Out of 5.5 lbs. of berries, I got only a little bit of debris.


Cleaned and ready to can.


Ten pints, ready for syrup. My canning book recommends cold-packing blueberries (as opposed to hot-packing) so they don't get mushy.


I dissolve sugar in water at a 1:2 ratio, bringing it to a boil for "thin" syrup.


Ladling the syrup into the jars.


Scalding the Tattler lids.


Capping the jars.


It's important to always use a rack at the bottom of the canning pots so the jars aren't directly touching the pot bottom (which can cause breakage). Blueberries are acidic, so they can be water-bath canned.


I got six jars in my medium pot, four jars in my smaller pot. The water should come to about an inch above the tops of the jars.


I put a timer by each pot to keep track. Pint jars of blueberries need to be boiled at a rolling boil for fifteen minutes.


I started the timers when the water reached a rolling boil. This photo is hard to see, but I've lifted the lid (on the left) to see the rapidly-boiling water (under all the steam).


I turned the temperatures to low under the pots and left them alone while the timers ticked.


The jars leaked juice as I pulled them out. This is normal.


About a year ago, I got lazy and purchased a can of "blueberry pie filling" from the grocery store for a dessert recipe. I use quotes because the product was a joke. There were about five blueberries in the can; the rest was filling.

But these pints of canned blueberries are chock-ful of fresh (organic!) blueberries which can be made into pie filling within minutes. Home canning -- it's the best!


I'll do another picking of blueberries in about a week. I estimate I'll have three more pickings left, maybe another ten pounds total. God bless summer fruit!

28 comments:

  1. I have never had blow out with WBC, didn't know it was possible except with pressure canning. I am kinda shocked to learn this.

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    1. I've had a handful break over the years- probably small cracks or imperfections in the jars that I missed. Worst one was apple pie filling. The other jars were a horrible sticky mess.

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  2. Yum! I picked 11# yesterday, at the local 'You Pick" patch. Mine all go to jam, though. I had freezer space for a gallon bag of them last year (won't have it this year) and it was wonderful to pull them out in February and use them too cool my oatmeal in the morning. I planted 4 bushes this year, but it'll be awhile before I see anything from those, assuming I can keep the deer off them. They already munched them once before I made some chicken wire cages for them. Oops.

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  3. We have been so dry here in NC and it took awhile for our berries to ripen. We did have a good crop, rather small berries. Then the rain came and so did the birds! We have used netting before, but then the poor little birds would just get trapped.
    Thanks for posting this, in past years I've looked for recipes for blueberry pie filling and it all seemed too "much". Now I'm looking forward to next year and canning blueberries the "Patrice" way.
    Kelly in Kernersville, NC

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  4. I have a random question that is only kinda sorta related to the post, and that you may not know the answer to, but I can't find the answer anywhere.

    I know that if you pressure cook chicken bones for a couple hours (or simmer for a couple days on the stove) the bones will disintegrate to the point where you can mush them up (and then potentially use them in the garden or compost).

    Do you have any idea how long it would take for the much heavier and thicker beef bones to be mush-able?

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    1. We put the chicken leftovers in our crock pot and let it cook for a couple days. Our dog loves the stuff on his food. He'd be mad if we poured it in the garden. I thought it was a bad idea to put that sort of thing in the compost? Maybe not?

      We froze 30 lbs of blueberry's this year. We use most of them in a baked oatmeal recipe we found. Delicious!!! I was going to plant some bushes this year but the deer are thick here in norther Michigan. We have a couple places we pick from but our son now lives in Holland, Michigan and they have several very large blueberry farms that grow them. One is 800 acres. It's a good reason to go visit him.

      God Bless you all.

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    2. Never put "meat scraps" in compost pile

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    3. It is, or was, the similar to the process used to make commercial bone meal used in gardens, though I understand that they add chemicals to the mix to control the break-down of the bones.

      I have this massive glut of buffalo leg bone cuts, given to me as "marrow bones" for the dogs. They're from a local farm, and were payment for some work I did for them. The dogs love working the marrow out of them, but then I'm left with a TON of empty leg bone pieces, and I'd hate to just toss them, and would love to be able to use them for something.....

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    4. don't know about cooking down buffalo leg bones, however, next time you latch onto some, make yourself some rich bone broth! Google it! You are missing out on some really nice broths for soup etc.!

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  5. Oh man! I've been enjoying the blueberries this year (store bought * sniff - sniff*). Even put some in the freezer but think I'll can some now. Thanks for the thought.

    FYI, leave the jars in the water for another 5 min after the boiling times ended, off heat and that really helps with the syphoning off of juice. Learned that one from Canning granny.

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  6. How do you prevent those white towels from getting stained? Just bleach?

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  7. Maybe if you left the jars in the water till morning you wouldn't loose so much juice. It would be slower canning.
    Love pics of blueberries.
    I just put up 12 jars of blueberry jam.
    Yum.

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  8. Doesn't the leaking juice mean they didn't seal properly? Isn't the juice a sticky mess between the lid and the jar? I don't have any experience in canning blueberries so I am very curious on this.

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  9. A delightful post. Little Lihn watching with such curiosity as the beautiful blueberries go into glistening jars is just too precious.

    I've decided that I'm going to dig up my scrawny blueberry bushes - 9 total in three different places - and transplant them with a little love like you did. They're almost completely lost among the weeds, but I can still see them in there.

    I'm just so enthralled with the idea that canning blueberries is so easy! I'm being foolish for letting my bushes languish.

    Just Me

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  10. Can't grow blueberries here in Kansas unless you greatly enrich the soil. You are blessed indeed!

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  11. The canning experts around me say that the cause of the contents running out of the jars is too high a boil in the water bath canner. I have had it happen in the past. But now keep the water "just" rolling. Hasn't happened since.

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  12. I make mine directly into filling and can it. then I just open and pour in my pie crusts and bake

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  13. I know this is an older post, but I had a question. Do you just add the canned blueberries into a pie crust and bake, or do you add something else to them first? Thanks!!!

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    1. I drain the syrup out of the berries first. (Some people don't, but I do.) Then for every 4 cups of berries, I mix in about 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of flour, then pour into the pie shell. I add a few pats of butter and put the pie crust on top. Very quick and easy.

      - Patrice

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  14. The syrup in the jars is runny with this recipe. Very disappointed. I thought I would be getting blueberry pie filling that would be a little thick.

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    1. I simply canned blueberries rather than pie filling. You can either add cornstarch to the blueberries to thicken before putting in a pie, or you can add some Clear-Jel to the blueberries before canning, to make it thick enough for pie filling (canning corn starch is not recommended).

      - Patrice

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  15. so the pints are put in a cold water bath in the pots, brought to a rolling boil and boiled for 15 min, then the heat is turned off and they remain in the pots? for how long?

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    1. Yes to everything. I've been keeping the jars in the pot after the heat is turned off for about ten extra minutes (thanks to the suggestion from "herdog" above) it's worked beautifully.

      - Patrice

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  16. Can you use regular canning lids for these?
    I am new at canning, so I'm not familiar with the lids you mentioned in the instructions.
    Thank you!

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    1. Yes of course. I mostly use the Tattler lids, but regular lids are easier for beginning canners.

      - Patrice

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    2. Thank you for your prompt response to my question!

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  17. Can you use regular canning lids?

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  18. Can I just say that I love that you use Tattlers!! I do as well but so many people have never even heard of them.
    I am going to try this recipe. Here is Maine fresh blueberries are still being sold this late into the season so I will buy some to make this. We just planted 6 high bushes ourselves this year and I can't wait until we can pick our own!

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