Gathering the blues…
Growing up above the Arctic Circle in rural Alaska, blueberries were the only treat we needed and it was the only dessert we wanted. We’d have them fresh during the summer and then frozen in the winter, but my favorite was blueberry jam on a fresh bread roll from the oven. The whole family would go out picking berries and on a good windy day, we’d be out all day well into the evening. While picking our only sense of time was the position of the sun on the horizon. It was a great family bonding time that I will never forget.
When I was in 5th grade or so my aunt asked me if I wanted to help her make blueberry jam and I jumped at the opportunity. Though, I had never helped or seen the canning process I was very excited. I was in charge of crushing the blueberries and it was a fun job. I didn’t pay attention to the recipe or what she was adding because I was happy just crushing and stirring the berries. I only watched as she poured the hot berry mixture into the jars and added them to the water bath. I remember sitting and waiting for about 10 whole minutes as the jars processed in the water bath. Once time was up she pulled them out and told me to listen, as I’m sitting there watching them I heard a “pop” noise and she told me that that means they are sealed. Now that I’m older and have been making my own jam for years I’ve stuck with the recipe from the pectin packet I use, which is the Sure Jell Blueberry Jam Recipe.
Now that my children are old enough to understand and pay attention, I’ve been including them in the gathering and canning process. Just as my aunt let me crush the berries in the pot, my son and daughter take turns with that job. I feel it is important to keep traditions such as this alive so future generations will know where they come from. I’m very happy that my children are learning what I learned and I hope they treasure the memories just as I have.