Blueberries are here! Of course you can go to u-pick farms and gather quarts – or you can find a field of wild berries where you can gather small cups-full for your morning cereal or pancakes.

Robert McCloskey describes the experience of gathering berries with a young one in his iconic children’s book “Blueberries for Sal”: “Her mother walked slowly through the bushes, picking blueberries as she went and putting them in her pail. Little Sal struggled along behind, picking blueberries and eating every single one.”

SMALL BATCH BLUEBERRY PRESERVES

I love to capture the essence of summer fruits but am not all that keen on standing over a huge steaming kettle in August or dealing with the sometimes-daunting admonitions of water bath processing – so I’ve turned to putting up just a few jars of blueberry jam at a time and storing them in the refrigerator, from which the jam disappears long before it has any chance of spoiling.  

Makes: Three half-pint jars 

2 cups Maine low-bush blueberries or larger high-bush blueberries

1 1/3 cups sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

¼ teaspoon butter

Half a cinnamon stick

2½ tablespoons liquid pectin 

In a wide, heavy saucepan or middle-sized deep skillet, combine the berries, sugar, lemon juice, butter and cinnamon stick. Use a potato masher to crush the blueberries to release their juice. 

Place the pot on a burner, turn the heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring almost constantly. Boil for 1 minute. Add the pectin, return to a boil, and boil for 1 minute, stirring. Remove from the heat.

Discard the cinnamon stick. Ladle the mixture into clean glass canning jars or other jars. Cool to room temperature (preserves will thicken as they cool), cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

VARIATIONS: You can use the same proportions and method with almost any fruit, including strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, or chopped nectarines, plums, or peeled peaches.

LEMON BLUEBERRY MOUSSE

This is a delicate mousse, light yet rich, pale yellow in color and studded with beautiful purpIish blueberries.  The base is a cooked lemon curd, which is yummy on its own, but ethereal when folded with softly whipped cream and berries. It’s the perfect ending to any summer meal.

Servings: Six

3 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon zest

Pinch of salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut in small bits

1 cup chilled heavy cream

1½ cups blueberries

Mint sprigs

Combine the eggs, sugar, lemon juice and zest, and salt in a non-reactive saucepan and whisk until light. Place over medium heat, add the butter, and cook, whisking constantly, until butter melts and the curd thickens and heavily coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. If curd has any lumps, force it through a strainer. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour until cold. (Can be made 2 days ahead.)

Whip the cream to soft peaks. Whisk about one-third of the whipped cream into the curd to lighten it, then gently fold the two mixtures together. Fold in 1 cup of the blueberries.

Spoon into an attractive glass serving bowl or into individual stemmed glasses. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to 4 hours. Sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup blueberries before serving and garnish with mint sprigs.

NOTE:  You can substitute purchased lemon curd and add 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest and 2 tablespoons juice. Be sure to buy a good brand such as that made by Stonewall Kitchen.

 

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Lobster!” (Storey, 2012). She can be contacted via Facebook at: facebook.com/brookedojny