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Monday, June 23, 2008

Blueberries, Blackberries & Crabapples! Oh My!

I am so excited! We just found out about a park nearby which has over 4000 blueberry bushes, in about five different varieties that are free for the picking to anyone who wants to bring buckets and do the work. The season, because of the different varieties, lasts from about mid-July through October.

This means that the fruit for most of our preserves will be free this year, as we have blackberries all over the place, and the park where we are allowed to pick crabapples. We have two friends with orchards, and we're trading pollination for fruit with them, as well as some honey and jars of preserves.

The hard part is going to be picking and preserving, because of the new baby, but Rich and the boys are good for real help, and some families from church and from our local homeschool group said they would come help for some instruction on how to make jams, jellies, etc and can them. I should have many hands to help me this year, which will be useful.

Last year, I found out that making three batches of blackberry lime jam and two batches of crabapple jelly is just enough for our entire year's worth of preserves including gifts. My goal is to make at least one more batch of each this year. I would like to make blackberry syrup as well, but we'll see how it goes.

I make a lovely blackberry peach jam that I'd like to do again, if we can either get peaches from our friends, or a really good deal from Yakima. Raspberries and strawberries would be nice as well, but I'm not sure how feasible this year. With the blueberries, though, I can make syrups and preserves. We also plan on freezing as much of the blueberries and blackberries as we can, in a single sheet at a time, then vacuum sealing them into bags to use as the winter days come on.

The other thing I am looking forward to doing with the blueberries is making loads of lemon-blueberry pound cake and freezing those. Amira plans on making blackberry pies with her grandmother, and we might get them to freeze some of those, too.

We will be having house guests between the week before our baby arrives and the month after. The children's godparents arrive first, on their way to a church function of theirs, with their son. Then Rich's folks, then a week or two on our own with Rich off of work, then a good friend of mine who will be visiting and helping me with the house and the children, probably toward the end of July and leaving the middle of August. This should help me get at least some of the projects I want to do completed this summer, which is another thing I'm looking forward to about seeing them.

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I wish I could send you some peaches from Georgia- but the drought and hard winter have really taken it's toll.
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