Some problems in life are pretty terrible. This particular ‘problem’ isn’t. Anyone who grows and harvests or simply stocks up when in season, knows the ‘challenge’ of coping with a ton of ripe fruit all at once. It’s blueberry season here and we have a couple hundred pounds of these fresh nutrient-packed gems to deal with.
To have access to these beauties year round, the first thing we do is stock the freezer. It gets mighty full very fast as the blueberries snuggle in next to the rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries and cherries already in there. (Peaches, pears, figs and blackberries yet to come.) We also offer local, organic berry sales to friends and neighbours. Any donations go towards kiddo’s college fund as he plays an active role with us in tending to the orchard, picking, sorting, marketing and selling. Some of our fruit also gets made into jam, but we like raspberries and peaches best for that application.
The remaining blueberries get dried to use in homemade trail mix, baking or simply straight up as a snack. A few years ago we bought a Nesco brand “Food Dehydrator and Jerky Maker”. It’s well worth it. It comes with a manual that indicates the time and temperature to dry various fruits and vegetables. It also has recipes for things like fruit leather and even meat jerky if you’re into that. It’s an ideal investment for campers, hikers and…astronauts or anyone needing lightweight, highly nutritious, easy-to-pack food. (A decent dehydrator for home use costs anywhere from $75-300.) This is my gratuitous shout out for the Nesco machine as we’ve been very happy with its performance. Before this baby, if anyone ever told me they dehydrated food at home it seemed too complicated or like you had to be a hippie, full-time farmer or pioneer to do it. It also left me with visions of every inch of kitchen counter space covered with fruit as it dries and the oven on for 48 hours straight in the summer heat! Not so.
Where many fruits simply get layered into the stack-able trays of the dehydrator with no prep required, blueberries do require a quick dip in boiling water to break the skin and expedite the drying process. This is one example of several where “processing” food does not make it the devil. After filling the trays, the machine simply gets plugged in and its fairly quiet fan (like a bathroom fan) runs for anywhere from 8-24 hours, depending on the fruit or vegetable. Then, you have ‘preserved food’ (also not a swear word) to enjoy at a much later date. Consider this means of processing food if you need more ways to build your blueberry stash.
Cheers from this country mouse in city mouse clothing!