One of my favorite parts about summer is preserving all of the wonderful bounty that grows around here in our short summer months. And fresh, local berries are top on the preserving list! My summer berry picking usually starts off with strawberries, and then moves on to raspberries and blueberries. With all of the berry picking that I usually do, we typically don't buy any berries throughout the remainder of the year (expect for special occasions). This year has been a bit of disappointment in the berry picking department, though. Due to our traveling this summer, I completely missed the strawberry season! It was a bit shorter than normal due to heavy rains, which abruptly ended the season on the same day we got back into town. And then this week I was all ready to go blueberry and raspberry picking when I found out that the farm I usually go to for both types of berries had a worm infestation in their raspberries and they closed them for the season. So sad (both for the farmers and for me)!! I did, however, get a bumper crop of blueberries and I found a pint or so of worm-free raspberries. I've decided that blueberries are one of my favorite berries to freeze! They are so easy to incorporate into muffins, pancakes, deserts, and more in their frozen form, unlike raspberries and strawberries, which are better eaten fresh. So, in the end, it worked out. We won't have any strawberry or raspberry jam this summer, but that's ok. I've realized that we really only need 1-2 batches of fruit preserves to get us through the year. So, this may be an apple butter year. And I'm just fine with that.
I picked an ice cream bucket full of blueberries, which gave me 12 cups to freeze for muffins, pancakes, smoothies, and whatever else we want them for. I also set aside 6 cups for a blueberry pie (yum!!!) and 4 more cups to be used this week and for fresh eating. So far we've made blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins, blueberry kombucha, and of course eaten many more of those berries fresh out of the fridge.
How about you?? What types of berries do you like to pick and how do you use them??