By now, strawberry season in Texas is pretty much over, and a lot of homesteaders have stocked their pantries full of a variety of jams, jellies, and preserves of that sweet, delicious red berry. Ours in particular is swimming in quarts and quarts of jam; and at the rate our family loves to eat it, I'm hoping it lasts until the next picking season. Or at the very least, through the summer, and into autumn - when fruit butters and maple syrup really hit the spot.
But thankfully, with the sad farewell of strawberries comes the anticipated welcome of blueberry season, and they sure are b-e-a-u-tiful right now! Naturally, blueberries are in season from about the end of May to the end of July here locally, so we're only just getting started; but with like anything else, it'll be over before we know it. Our 90+ degree weather has apparently been ripening them pretty fast in our area according to the local growers, and droves of people seem to be flocking to farms, picking to their heart's content. This past Tuesday we were able to get out to our favorite little place, Third Day Farm, about 35 minutes away for some harvesting of our own, and we couldn't have "picked" a better day (being punny is just how eye roll!). Local scattered showers in the area gave us plenty of cloud coverage, nice breezes, and cooler temps than we've been having here in deep east Texas - and this group of sunburnt homesteaders could NOT have been more thankful!
In just a little over an hour, the kids and I picked 14.5 pounds of beautiful plump berries for just $2.50 a pound, and would have gotten more if time allowed. Hopefully we can make it back very soon before our June temps worsen, and pick an even bigger blueberry haul for all the things I want to make with them. I'd love to be able to stock our pantry with things like blueberry jam (of course!) and blueberry syrup; bake things like blueberry pancakes, muffins, breads, cobblers, and pies; and to still have enough to freeze whole so that my blueberry eating monster can still enjoy a berry snack when she wants - without having to pay ridiculous prices for them at the grocery store!
This week, I plan to kickoff the blueberry menu with one of the most delectable fruit breads I have ever tasted - blueberry lemon bread with lemon glaze. And as a bonus for you lovely peeps, I'll link to the recipe for you here. Warning, it's pretty addicting, so bake with caution!
Moving past the kitchen for some added homeschool fun, I've decided we're going to bring the blueberry from the farm to the classroom as well. With little lessons like the growing cycles of blueberries, plant anatomy, an art project or two, and interesting facts related to the berry itself, my hope is to inspire Kyler, Tristan, Willow, and myself to always look past the plate and fork, and really understand exactly what it takes, and has taken to get our food there. Before today, I had no clue that blueberries have only been domesticated a little over a century, or that a woman named Elizabeth White helped to initiate the cultivation of them! For me, reconnecting with our food sources means understanding it's history - knowing the how, when, and where, too. Plus, the kids seem to learn and absorb information so much better when our schooling incorporates real life, and the projects we pursue. That whole "life imitating learning imitating life" kind of thing, ya know.
So, what are some of your favorite ways to use blueberries, in and out of the kitchen? Feel free to drop us a comment or message, we'd love to hear from you!