July 09, 2008

Buried in Berries

Picking berries is one of my favorite summer activities. I’ve been doing it for as far back as I can remember with my mom, grandma, and even my great-grandma. I didn’t have any help picking from the old folks (sorry, mom!) this year but I had a record harvest nonetheless….22 pounds of strawberries and 16 pounds of blueberries!

I made some fresh jam with some of the strawberries and froze the rest of the strawberries for my favorite breakfast treat, smoothies, and pancakes and muffins in the fall.

Easy Strawberry Jam

2 cups crushed strawberries
4 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
3/4 cup water
1 box Sure Jell Fruit Pectin
5 (1-cup) containers (washed and dried thoroughly)

Crush strawberries thoroughly, 1 cup at a time. Measure exactly 2 cups prepared fruit into a large bowl. Stir in sugar and let stand 10 minutes (stirring occasionally).

Mix water and pectin in a small saucepan. Bring to boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Continue boiling and stirring 1 minute. Add to fruit mixture and stir for at least 3 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and no longer grainy.

Fill the containers immediately to within ½ inch of tops. Wipe off top edges of containers and immediately cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. Jam is now ready to use. Store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks or freeze extra containers up to a year. Thaw in refrigerator before using.

With some of the blueberries, I made the Husband’s favorite, Blueberry Turnovers.

Blueberry Turnovers

1½ cups flour
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening, solid vegetable, chilled, cut into small pieces
4 Tablespoons ice water

2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon water
1½ cups blueberries
1 Tablespoon sugar

1 egg, slightly beaten

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and salt together. Using a pastry blender, cut shortening and butter into the flour mixture until coarse crumbs form. Stir in water, 1 Tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork until a soft dough forms. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 1 hour.

To prepare filling, dissolve the cornstarch in the water. In a medium saucepan, heat the blueberries and the sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and cool .

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll dough to a 1/8" thickness. Cut out about 5-6 6" circles. Spoon the filling evenly into the center of each circle, careful not to overstuff the pastry rounds. Fold the dough over the filling and then press the edges together with a fork to seal.

Place turnovers on baking sheet and brush with the beaten egg. Sprinkle pearled sugan on top if you have it. Bake the turnovers until golden brown about 30 minutes. When done, transfer the turnovers to a wire rack to cool.

Garnish with fresh blueberries and mint sprigs.