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Jessica’s Garden: Feeling the Blues with Blueberries

Making Blueberry Lemon Preserves


The end of the local strawberry season brings the beginning of one of our family’s favorites– blueberry season. Store-bought blueberries pale in comparison to farm fresh or homegrown.  From years of working on a pick-your-own farm in my teens and early 20s, I learned that once a blueberry turns blue, it’s still ten days away from being ripe and ready to eat. I suspect store- bought blueberries are picked early to prolong shelf life.

Grayson and I have been on two blueberry patch play dates so far since the opening of the season. We’ve picked enough to can a couple of recipes, cook a few and have plenty for eating. The pick-your-own patch is a great place for play dates; it’s an outdoor and shady activity, easy to pick, and abundant this time in the season.  Last year, I planted a couple of ‘Pink Lemonade’ blueberries in our Berry patch, however they unfortunately did not fruit this season.  My hope is that in a couple of years, after incorporating other varieties for cross-pollination, we will be able to grow our own supply of these fresh berries.

Grayson Picking Blueberries


Whole Blueberries in Lavender and Vanilla Bean Syrup
Whole Blueberries in Lavender and Vanilla Bean Syrup


Blueberries are a versatile fruit.  And they’re a healthy snack packed with nutrients and antioxidants. I’ve found them to be kid-friendly and easy to pack for an away-from-the-house kiddie snack. I made a small batch of blueberry and lemon preserves as well as six pints of whole blueberries, canned in syrup infused with fresh lavender and vanilla bean. The preserves will be perfect for quick breakfasts on hearty toast. And I am looking forward to trying the whole blueberries over yogurt or ice cream.  And if you’ve never had scratch-made blueberry pie from farm-fresh blueberries, you are missing out.

Grayson and I were home alone for dinner one night this week, so we had some fun. We made French toast with a simple blueberry compote in lieu of syrup. A simple and delicious twist on the ordinary. Served hot, the compote was more of a syrup. However, refrigerated leftovers turned into a soft-set jam and can be stored for a week or two and used as a jam would be.

Blueberry Compote with Thai Basil and Lemon

Blueberry Compote with Thai Basil and Lemon

1 1/4 Cup Fresh Blueberries
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 Cup Water
2-3 Small Branches Thai Basil
1 Lemon; Zest and Juice

Combine all ingredients in saucepan.  Bring to a gentle and slow boil.  Stirring often, reduce mixture down until syrup-consistency; takes about 15-20 minutes.  Remove basil stems and leaves.  Serve over French toast, pancakes or waffles. Refrigerate leftovers; use within 1-2 weeks. Sweet basil can be substituted for Thai basil.


Posted By: Jessica J. Crawford Behnkes Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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