I have been really bad about going to local orchards so far this year.
Living in a town with no less than 6 different orchards, you’d think I would have patronized at least one of them, but no. The only orchard I have been to was one in CT with my mom earlier this summer, in the thick of blueberry season.
All the benefits of pick-your-own, local produce aside, there’s another reason getting out to the berry patch is enjoyable. There’s something about picking blueberries; being shielded among the rows of bushes that lulls you into a certain sense of anonymity. You’re shoulder deep in your bush, scouring the leaves and berry bundles for those perfectly blue morsels that it’s easy to forget about all the other pickers around you, who can hear everything you might say. Blueberry bushes are not sound dampening.
I think someone could do a reality tv show about the things people say while in the false shelter of the berry patch. Things I have overheard include, “Those are just God’s tears, sweetie.” (In regards to the dew accumulated on the blueberry bush’s leaves). Or….
“Look Momma, I picked the mommy and baby berries!”
“What about the daddy berries?”
“……..” (This toddler literally did not respond to his mother’s question. Awkward.)
Thankfully, you won’t overhear anything too embarrassing from my mom or myself. Once we enter the patch, we are berry-picking machines, and walked away with almost 10 pounds between us earlier this year.
I brought my haul back to MA in a plastic sack, plopped it on the kitchen counter and started divvying up the berries for different uses. Some for my mom’s coffee cake, most for eating, some for freezing and some for this jam.
I wanted to make a unique tasting jam with these berries, something I had never done before. The idea of steeping tea bags while you cook your jam really intrigued me, and while I considered using green tea at first, the citrus-y undertones and more potent aroma of earl grey won me over.
The taste won me over as well. The tea blends perfectly with the sweet blueberries, and the resulting flavor combination is really spectacular and complex. I am definitely going to have to experiment with other tea/fruit combinations for jam in the future, and now you can too!
- 2 cups blueberries, rinsed and dried
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 earl grey tea bag (I used loose leaf)
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 Tbsp water
- In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients, minus the tea bag and stir to combine. Set over medium heat and add the tea bag (you can pull off the tab on the end and throw in the whole thing. You can fish it out later.) Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture just begins to bubble, then lower heat to medium low. At this point, you can mash up some of the berries with a fork or potato masher if desired. Continue cooking for about 5 more mins, or until the mixture has thickened slightly.
- Remove from heat and let cool slightly in the pan. Remove tea bag, then portion the jam into jars and continue to let cool completely. Store cooled jam in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to 2 weeks.