When it comes to canning blueberries, people automatically just think jam and freezing the berries. While I certainly can blueberry jam and freeze the berries too, a good price point on blueberries means I need to think bigger. Home canned pie filling is a fun pantry staple, but I also wanted something less sweet. I was surprised to learn blueberries can be canned in straight up water, which I did too, giving me great versatility. But then I eyed my bag of culinary lavender and decided what a nice paring it would be with blueberries in a light syrup.
One reason I love cooking so much, is finding creative ways to use ingredients – especially herbs. My cousin Jenny and I love little booklets stapled together on the spine you find in novelty shops – we find all kinds of interesting uses for herbs and flowers. One year we made scented geranium sugar and fed it to her husband in a drink or dish (can’t remember) and thought we were hilarious and clever. Not everyone is open to trying unconventional ingredients, so sometimes you just have to reveal the ingredients later to husbands and children. Of course, some things you just have to warn about, like pickled blueberries, because no one expects that combination. Floral flavor notes with blueberries are less of a shock, so you should have no problem passing off to willing tasters.
I’ll use my lavender scented blueberries in homemade yogurt and in fruit salads. I can top off pancakes or ice cream with these lightly sweetened, scented berries. I like adding very light syrup to bring out the natural flavor of both the blueberries and lavender – just a kiss of sweetness.
When canning blueberries, you need to plunge them in simmering water for 30 seconds before placing them in jars. I didn’t once, and it was a mess, with my jars siphoning and spilling out purple liquid everywhere. Here are two blueberries – the one on the left has not been boiled, and the right one has. The heated blueberry is plump, so putting raw blueberries in a jar for canning means the berries will expand. Hard lesson learned on my part, but now you know.
The first thing I did was yes, plunge the berries in simmering water for 30 seconds, or until they looked a little plump. You don’t want them to get saggy or pop, just heat through. I then put them in clean jars. Because these berries are canned for longer than 10 minutes, I didn’t need to sterilize. After placing berries in jars, I added light syrup, which is 5 3/4 water to 1 1/2 cups of sugar. I didn’t boil my sugar mixture, but heated until sugar had dissolved so my berries didn’t overcook. The amount of sugar syrup you make will depend on how many jars you can. I poured the syrup over the jarred berries to the 1/2 inch line, and added 3/4 tsp of dried lavender flowers. I warmed my lids, and secured them with rings.
My elevation is under 1,000 feet, so I water bath canned my hot packed berries for 15 minutes. Check your elevation by clicking here to make certain you have the correct time for your elevation.
Experimenting with herbs in unexpected dishes a little culinary adventure, so trick – I mean, surprise -your family with this taste of summer in a jar.