Last weekend we spent the long weekend in the Berkshires, in Mt. Washington, Massachusetts, and I took my son baby son blueberry picking at Blueberry Hill Farm, an organic blueberry farm near where we were staying. It was a great way to introduce to him the idea that the food we eat comes from plants, which, for urban kids, can be very surprising! Also, we saw a lot of animals that we don’t usually see in the city, including a bunny rabbit that was hopping around the blueberry bushes. My son ended up eating most of the berries we picked as we picked them, so we only came home with about a cup of berries. Even that much, though, was enough to make a small serving of homemade blueberry jam.
It turned out to be exceptionally easy. I mixed the berries with about a quarter cup of cane sugar, mashed it all with a potato masher, put it on the stove and cooked it at low to medium heat for about fifteen minutes until the consistency turned thick and sticky, and then let it cool. We ate it on bread with our dinner, and we had enough left over for about two to three more servings. I’ve made jam before, with Concord grapes we got from our CSA share, but I found it’s even more enjoyable to make jam with berries you picked yourself. Also, making jam with Concord grapes is a little more time consuming because you have to peel each grape. With blueberries, you just mash them up!
If you’re picking and making homemade blueberry jam with kids, a great book to read with them about berry picking is Blueberries for Sal by Robert McKloskey. In that book, a mother and her daughter and a bear and her bear cub are picking berries for the winter. It’s a great way to talk about the changing seasons and introduce the idea that in the harvest season we gather and store food for the cold months ahead.