Best Pickled Beets Recipe

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Pickled Beets
Pickled Beets

I so love pickled beets.  They are something I grew up with and I make them every year.  It’s a bit of a messy job but, oh, are the results so worth it!  I look upon these as vegetable candy!

Pickled beets are really nothing more than cooked beets bottled with a vinegar-sugar-spice syrup. That’s it.

For pickling, I recommend cylinder beets if you can get them. They are long and slender and slice nicely for fitting in to the jars and also for presentation.  Regular ball beets can, of course, be used for pickling and, in fact, that’s all my grandmothers would have used – just the regular garden variety.  However, some of the round beets grow quite large and the slices have to be cut into two or three pieces to get them to fit in the jars and they don’t look quite as nice for presentation….same great taste, though.

Beets take awhile to cook so patience is required for this exercise.  Try to select uniformly-sized ones so they all cook at the same rate. However, if you have a mixture of sizes, place the larger ones in the bottom of the pot and the smaller ones on top.

Don’t peel the beets before they are cooked. Simply remove the leaves, leaving about 1″ stem and the root end intact.  Removing the stem or root end will cause bleeding and the vegetable will lose its vibrant color during the cooking process. The stem ends get removed after cooking and the beets get peeled after they are cooked. In fact, the skins will usually just slip off the cooked beets.

Because these vegetables are a bit messy to deal with, I use a portable burner and cook them outside so there is less chance of beet-spattered walls and counter in my kitchen. They do stain surfaces. I add a couple of teaspoons of cooking oil to the water in which the beets are cooked as I find it helps to prevent them from boiling over.

When the beets are starting to get along with their cooking, start the syrup to cook in a separate smaller stockpot.  The syrup should cook for about 18-20 minutes at a slow boil.  Don’t boil it too rapidly or for too long as it will evaporate and there won’t be enough syrup to fill the jars. This means more syrup has to be made and the syrup needs to go over the hot beets so timing is everything. For instructions on how to make the spice sachet used in the syrup, visit my posting on making mustard pickles. I also recommend that pickling vinegar be used. It will usually have 7% acidity, making it stronger than table vinegar and will help to preserve the beets longer.

You can give the cooked beets a quick rinse under cold running water. It does make them a bit easier to handle. However, they have to be bottled hot so don’t over-do the rinsing. I recommend slicing the hot beets about 1/4″ thick. Pack them well into the hot sterilized jars, leaving about 1″ headroom. Ladle the hot syrup into the filled jars, filling each jar with the syrup to within 1/4″ from the top. Use a non-metal object to remove any air bubbles that may have formed in the jars and add more syrup, if necessary, to fill up the jars to about 1/4″ from the tops. Seal with heated lids and screw on the jar bands just until resistance is met.  For greatest food safety, it is recommended that the filled jars be processed in a hot water bath following your canner manufacturer’s directions for your local altitude.

Traditional PEI Christmas Dinner
Pickled Beets with Roast Turkey Dinner

We enjoy these tasty morsels with cooked dinners such as the traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey dinners as well as with roast beef or pork dinners. They are also good served with cold meats.

Beets
Pickled Beets

[Printable Recipe follows at end of posting]

Best Pickled Beets

 Ingredients:

5 lbs cylinder beets, stem and root ends intact
Boiling water
2 tsp cooking oil

2¾ cups brown sugar
2¾ cups pickling vinegar
1 cup + 3 tbsp water
2¾ tsp pickling spice, tied into a small cheesecloth sachet
2 – 6” cinnamon sticks
¼ tsp salt

Method:
Remove the leaves from the beets, leaving about 1” stem in place.  Rinse under cold water to remove any clay.  In very large stock pot, place the larger beets on the bottom, then the smaller ones. Cover the beets with boiling water and add 2 tsp cooking oil.  Cover and cook over medium-high heat until beets are fork tender.

As beets are nearing the cooked stage, begin making the syrup by combining the sugar, vinegar, water, pickling spice sachet, cinnamon sticks, and salt into a small stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium low and boil, uncovered, slowly for approximately 15-18 minutes.

Remove cooked beets from water, rinse quickly under cold water, peel, and remove and discard stem and root ends. Slice hot beets into ¼” thick slices and pack into sterilized jars, leaving 1” headroom.

Remove and discard the pickling spice sachet and cinnamon sticks from the syrup.  Ladle hot syrup over beets leaving ¼“ headroom.  Using a non-metal object, remove any air bubbles from the jars and add more syrup as necessary to fill jars to about ¼“ from the top. Wipe each jar rim clean with a damp cloth. Seal immediately with heated lids. Screw on jar bands just until resistance is met.

Process filled jars in hot water bath according to canner manufacturer’s directions for the proper time for your local altitude.

Yield:  Apx. 6 pints

For more of my pickle and chow recipes, follow these links:
Mustard Pickles
Bread and Butter Pickles
Green Tomato Chow
Mustard Beans

Best Pickled Beets Recipe

Yield: Apx 6 pints

These tasty sweet pickled beets are easy to make, showy in presentation, and are a fine accompaniment to many meals. A Prince Edward Island favorite.

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs cylinder beets, stem and root ends intact
  • Boiling water
  • 2 tsp cooking oil
  • 2¾ cups brown sugar
  • 2¾ cups pickling vinegar
  • 1 cup + 3 tbsp water
  • 2¾ tsp pickling spice, tied into a small cheesecloth sachet
  • 2 – 6” cinnamon sticks
  • ¼ tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Remove the leaves from the beets, leaving about 1” stem in place. Rinse under cold water to remove any clay. In very large stock pot, place the larger beets on the bottom, then the smaller ones. Cover the beets with boiling water and add 2 tsp cooking oil. Cover and cook over medium-high heat until beets are fork tender.
  2. As beets are nearing the cooked stage, begin making the syrup by combining the sugar, vinegar, water, pickling spice sachet, cinnamon sticks, and salt into a small stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and boil, uncovered, slowly for approximately 15-18 minutes.
  3. Remove cooked beets from water, rinse quickly under cold water, peel, and remove and discard stem and root ends. Slice hot beets into ¼” thick slices and pack into sterilized jars, leaving 1” headroom.
  4. Remove and discard the pickling spice sachet and cinnamon sticks from the syrup. Ladle hot syrup over beets leaving ¼“ headroom. Using a non-metal object, remove any air bubbles from the jars and add more syrup as necessary to fill jars to about ¼“ from the top. Wipe each jar rim with a damp cloth. Seal immediately with heated lids. Screw on jar bands just until resistance is met.
  5. Process filled jars in hot water bath according to canner manufacturer’s directions for the proper time for your local altitude.
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Pickled Beets
Pickled Beets

Blueberry Lemonade Recipe

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Lemonade
Blueberry Lemonade

Lemonade is a wonderful refreshing drink on a hot summer’s day.  Sometimes I like just plain old-fashioned lemonade and, other times, I like to flavor it using whatever berries are currently in season.  My latest lemonade creation uses high bush blueberries to make blueberry lemonade concentrate.  Fill a glass about one third full of the concentrate and top it up with lemon-lime soda for a tasty drink. You can, of course, top up the concentrate with lemon-flavored sparkling water instead of the soda.

Lemonade
Blueberry Lemonade

This recipe begins with a simple syrup which is infused with freshly squeezed lemon juice, grated lemon rind, and blueberry purée.

I am sometimes asked if it is necessary to use a simple syrup when making lemonade.  In my view, it is essential and here is why.  Ever try dissolving sugar in cold liquid?  If you have, then you know the difficulty in getting the sugar to completely dissolve. Stir, stir, stir or shake, shake, shake and the sugar just does not want to completely dissolve and the mixture will appear cloudy. This is because sugar is not very soluble in cold liquid.  At some point, you may have experienced a drink that had a nasty gritty sugar taste and texture and you may have noticed some undissolved sugar that fell  to the bottom of the glass.  This would have been the result of sugar mixed with cold liquid.

Lemonade is meant to be a bit tart but it does need some sugar to sweeten it a bit.  So, how do you get the sugar successfully incorporated into the lemonade?  It’s simple – you make a simple syrup. And, it’s called simple for a reason.

Simple syrup is nothing more than water and sugar heated until the sugar is perfectly dissolved.  There are various formulas for simple syrup, depending on how thick you want the syrup and for what purpose it will be used. I tend to use 3/4 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water for simple syrups for beverages.  My preference is to use super-fine sugar (aka caster sugar) because its fine texture means it dissolves easier than standard granulated sugar. Simply combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat over medium heat to the boiling point, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved.  Let the syrup boil gently for about 3-4 minutes, reducing the heat if necessary so the mixture does not boil too rapidly.  Don’t boil the mixture rapidly or leave the liquid on the heat too long because you’ll lose some to evaporation.  Remove the liquid from the heat and let it cool for about 30-40 minutes before adding any additional ingredients such as lemon juice, lemon rind, or puréed berries. Easy-peasy! And, you will have a much more refined drink that has a smooth, silky, velvet-like finish than you will get by trying to dissolve the sugar in cold water. It’s all about the quality in the end result.

Lemonade
Blueberry Lemonade

I used about 6 oz of high bush blueberries (the really nice big berries like the ones in the photo below) for this recipe and, with my potato masher, I loosely broke up the berries.

Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

By gently mashing the berries, their juices get released quicker when they are heated. The  berries were combined with 2/3 cup of water and cooked over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, just until they were softened and their juices were extracted.  The mixture was cooled for about 30 minutes then puréed with an immersion blender.  I added the blueberries, lemon juice, and lemon rind to the cooled simple syrup and let it sit for a couple of hours so the flavors would infuse the syrup.

To get the smooth liquid,  strain the cooled mixture through a very fine mesh sieve twice to remove the pulp.

This concentrate will keep in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for three to four days.

Lemonade
Blueberry Lemonade

[printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Blueberry Lemonade

Ingredients:
1 cup water
¾ cup super-fine sugar (aka caster sugar)

½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 – 2 tbsp grated lemon rind

6 oz high bush blueberries
2/3 cup water

Method:

For the simple syrup:  In small saucepan, combine the water and sugar together.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved.  Reduce heat slightly and boil gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature (apx. 30-40 minutes).

For the blueberry purée: In pie plate, gently mash the berries with a potato masher to release their juices.  Combine the berries and 2/3 cup water in a saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until berries are softened and the mixture is quite juicy.  Remove from heat and cool for about 30 minutes. Purée the berry mixture in a blender or with an immersion blender.

For the lemonade concentrate: Add the lemon juice, lemon rind, and puréed berry mixture to the cooled simple syrup.  Stir well to fully combine the ingredients.  Let mixture stand for at least an hour (or up to three hours) to allow the flavors to blend.  Strain mixture twice through a fine mesh sieve to remove the pulp.  Discard the pulp and pour concentrate into a bottle.  Cover tightly and store in refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

To serve:  Fill a glass approximately one-third full of lemonade concentrate.  Top up with lemon-lime soda or lemon-flavored sparkling water.  Add ice cubes. Garnish with a lemon wheel, a sprig of lemon balm, and fresh blueberries, if desired.

Yield:  Approximately 2 cups concentrate

Lemonade
Blueberry Lemonade

 

Blueberry Lemonade

Yield: Apx. 2 cups concentrate

This lemonade combines two complementary flavors to make a delightfully tasty and refreshing drink for a hot summer's day.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup super-fine sugar (aka caster sugar)
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 – 2 tbsp grated lemon rind
  • 6 oz high bush blueberries
  • 2/3 cup water

Instructions

  1. For the simple syrup: In small saucepan, combine the water and sugar together. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved. Reduce heat slightly and boil gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature (apx. 30-40 minutes).
  2. For the blueberry purée: In pie plate, gently mash the berries with a potato masher to release their juices. Combine the berries and 2/3 cup water in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until berries are softened and the mixture is quite juicy. Remove from heat and cool for about 30 minutes. Purée the berry mixture in a blender or with an immersion blender.
  3. For the lemonade concentrate: Add the lemon juice, lemon rind, and puréed berry mixture to the cooled simple syrup. Stir well to fully combine the ingredients. Let mixture stand for at least an hour (or up to three hours) to allow the flavors to blend. Strain mixture twice through a fine mesh sieve to remove the pulp. Discard the pulp and pour concentrate into a bottle. Cover tightly and store in refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  4. To serve: Fill a glass approximately one-third full of lemonade concentrate. Top up with lemon-lime soda or lemon-flavored sparkling water. Add ice cubes. Garnish with a lemon wheel, a sprig of lemon balm, and fresh blueberries, if desired.
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Lemonade
Blueberry Lemonade

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie Recipe

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Blueberry Pie
Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie

There are many ways to make blueberry pie but I have found that this is one of the tastiest. It’s also a great alternative to anyone who is not overly fond of double-crusted pies as this one is all about the filling!

Now, I love blueberries but sometimes I find they need a little help with a flavour boost.  That’s why I have created this recipe for a blueberry filling that adds a gentle amount of cinnamon and nutmeg along with some orange juice and orange rind.  To add a bit of depth and complexity to the flavor, I add a couple of tablespoons of Grand Marnier liqueur after the filling has cooked and been removed from the heat.  As with any food, it is important to know what flavor combinations work and will complement each other.  Cinnamon and nutmeg are two spices that go well with blueberries and, of course, blueberry and orange have long been a successful flavor combo. The other thing that is important is not to add in too many different flavors (or too much of any one additional flavor) as that can confuse the palate, detract from the authentic blueberry flavor, and not have the desired result.  Sometimes less really is more!

The blueberries I used in this recipe are locally-grown here on PEI. I am very fortunate in that I am not far from the Tryon Blueberries U-pick field of high bush berries.  When they are in season in August and early September, we always have these fresh.  The berries freeze well and this pie can certainly be made with the frozen berries so it can be enjoyed at any time throughout the year.

Summer Berries
PEI Blueberries

This is one of the those pies that is best eaten the day it is made so plan to make the pie early in the morning, let it chill for the afternoon, and enjoy it with a dollop of whipped cream as a special dessert treat for dinner.

Blueberry and Grand Marnier Pie
Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie

[printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie

Ingredients:

9” baked pie shell, cooled

6 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp sugar
1½ tbsp milk
½ tsp vanilla

¾ cup granulated sugar
3½ tbsp cornstarch
Dash salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp finely grated orange rind
12 oz. high bush blueberries (apx. 2½ cups)
2 tsp orange juice
2 tbsp Grand Marnier liqueur
½ tbsp butter

1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp sugar

Method:

In small bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Spread over bottom of baked and cooled pie shell. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

In small bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and grated orange rind together.  In medium-sized saucepan, combine the blueberries, orange juice, and cornstarch-sugar-spice mixture.  Cook and stir over medium-low heat until mixture is thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in Grand Marnier liqueur and butter.  Let mixture cool to room temperature then spread over chilled cream cheese base.  Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow pie to set.

Beat whipping cream and vanilla until soft peaks form then slowly beat in the sugar. Add a dollop of the whipped cream to each individual pie serving or, alternatively, completely cover chilled pie with the whipped cream. Refrigerate until use.  Pie is best eaten the day it is made.  (Note: Cool Whip can be substituted for the whipped cream, if desired.)

Yield:  One 9” pie.

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Blueberry and Grand Marnier Pie
Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie Recipe

Yield: One 9" pie

A luscious and decadent blueberry cream cheese pie that combines high bush blueberries with cinnamon, nutmeg and orange liqueur flavorings

Ingredients

  • 9” baked pie shell, cooled
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1½ tbsp milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3½ tbsp cornstarch
  • Dash salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp finely grated orange rind
  • 12 oz. high bush blueberries (apx. 2½ cups)
  • 2 tsp orange juice
  • 2 tbsp Grand Marnier liqueur
  • ½ tbsp butter
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Instructions

  1. In small bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Spread over bottom of baked and cooled pie shell. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
  2. In small bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and grated orange rind together. In medium-sized saucepan, combine the blueberries, orange juice, and cornstarch-sugar-spice mixture. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until mixture is thickened. Remove from heat and stir in Grand Marnier liqueur and butter. Let mixture cool to room temperature then spread over chilled cream cheese base. Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow pie to set.
  3. Beat whipping cream and vanilla until soft peaks form then slowly beat in the sugar. Add a dollop of the whipped cream to each individual pie serving or, alternatively, completely cover chilled pie with the whipped cream. Refrigerate until use. Pie is best eaten the day it is made. (Note: Cool Whip can be substituted for the whipped cream, if desired.)
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For more great blueberry recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on these links:

Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam

Blueberry Bread Pudding with Grand Marnier Sauce

Blueberry Barbeque Sauce

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Grunt

Blueberry Buckle

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

Picnic by the Confederation Bridge in PEI

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A PEI Picnic
Picnic by the Confederation Bridge

Picnics are a favorite summertime activity for us. We like to do a lot of daytripping around our province discovering and revisiting all that our wonderful Island has to offer.  Prince Edward Island has many great locations that are suitable for picnics.  Our picnic last weekend took us to a scenic location near the Confederation Bridge in Borden-Carleton.

Bridge between PEI and New Brunswick
Confederation Bridge

This bridge transcends the Northumberland Strait linking PEI with New Brunswick. At 12.9km (8 miles) in length, the bridge is the longest bridge in the world that crosses ice-covered water. Our Island winters can be quite harsh and the Strait is covered in thick ice for several months of the year. Building a bridge to withstand these conditions was no easy feat.

Before the bridge opened to traffic on May 31, 1997, the only ways on and off PEI were by ferry or air.  Ferry service does still operate seasonally in the Eastern part of the Province at Wood Islands where ferries transport vehicular traffic between PEI and Nova Scotia.

The Confederation Bridge curves partway across the Strait and has a high navigational span that allows large ships to pass under the bridge.  It’s pretty cool to see the large cruise ships going under the bridge!

Because the Confederation Bridge is an iconic element of PEI, it makes a fitting backdrop for a summertime Island picnic.

Summer Picnic in PEI
Bridge View

So, now that the stage has been set for the location, back to the picnic……I have chosen to go with a black and white theme and I’m a big fan of checkered fabric – checks just seem to speak of picnics. I have chosen to use my plain black dinner napkins and have wrapped the cutlery inside the napkins. This is easy to do before leaving home and it keeps the items together.  To give the classy black napkins a more casual look for a picnic, I have tied each napkin with narrow twine.

To add a punch of color to the table, I selected small bright yellow sunflowers paired with Bells of Ireland.  Whether I am setting the table for an event at home or on the road, I like to see a well set table! These flowers were locally grown at Island Meadow Farm in York, PEI.  They grow the most amazing array of flowers and I like to use them in my summer tablesettings.

Summer Flowers
Sunflowers and Bells of Ireland

Picnics are meant to be casual fare so, while I always try to have a main, a side, some fruit, something sweet, and a beverage, I often like to include some finger/snacking foods as I have done today.  Let’s start with the PEI mussels in the shell. These are steamed mussels to which I have added some red and orange pepper, celery, and red onion. A light dressing of a red wine vinaigrette makes these tasty little morsels.

Mussels
PEI Mussels

Cold cuts, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber are always good nibbling foods (and they add great color to the table).

Cold Cut Tray
The Nibbling Tray

DSC_0026

I wrapped peach wedges inside basil leaves and prosciutto (seen in the photo below). These little picnic hors d’oeuvres add color, texture, and flavor to the menu. They go particularly well with Gouda cheese.

Picnic Hors d'oeuvres
Peaches in Prosciutto

I have chosen small tomato quiches for the main in today’s picnic. The great thing about quiches is that they can be served, hot, warm, or cold and, when cold, are great travelers for the picnic basket.

Quiche
Tomato Quiche

And, for a side, I opted for a quinoa salad with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. To the quinoa I added peppers, corn, celery, red onion, and kale from our garden. Packing the salad into small Mason jars is an easy way to transport salads on a picnic.

Salad in a Mason Jar
Quinoa Salad

Plates are not always necessary for picnics.  Here, I have used small breadboards which work equally well and they are easy to pack.

Picnic
The Picnic Lunch

I popped by the Tryon Blueberries U-Pick in North Tryon on my way and picked a box of these amazing high-bush blueberries.  I live on these berries when they are in season on the Island!

Summer Berries
PEI Blueberries

And, for the sweet tooth, I took along some of my homemade snickerdoodle cookies.

Cookies
Snickerdoodle Cookies

And, as an extra special treat, we enjoyed Belgian chocolates that we brought home from a wonderful visit to Brugge, Belgium. If you ever have the chance to visit Brugge, I highly recommend it. You can view photos of my visit to Brugge over on my travel blog, Island Shore Traveler, by clicking here.

Chocolates
Belgian Chocolates

I like to choose foods and elements to the picnic that are colorful and that blend well together.

Picnic Time
A PEI Summer Picnic

I hope you have enjoyed a little “taste” of my picnic by the bridge.

PEI Picnic
Picnic by the Bridge

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PEI Picnic
Picnic by the Confederation Bridge, PEI

Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam Recipe

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Blueberry Jam
Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam

On my stove today was blueberry jam….but not just any jam…Blueberry AND Grand Marnier Jam!  Blueberry and orange are a great flavor combo so why not add a little kick to the jam by adding an orange-flavored liqueur. This does add a level of richness and flavor complexity to the jam.

Blueberry Jam
Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam

My berries came from the Tryon Blueberries U-pick in North Tryon, PEI.  These are high bush blueberries and picking them is quick and easy since the vines are loaded with large flavorful berries. No need to get down on the hands and knees to pick these blueberries!

High Bush Blueberries
Tryon Blueberries U-pick Field
Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

It takes probably no more than 10-15 minutes to pick a 5-pound box or bowlful and that’s generally from only 4-5 bushes.

This is an easy jam to make. I do use liquid pectin in the jam which gives it a soft set.  I find blueberry jam takes forever to cook and thicken if I don’t use pectin.  This is still a soft consistency jam that spreads easily and it is jam packed full of summer flavor!

Blueberry Jam
Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam

The berries need to be slightly crushed so that their juices get released quickly as this jam does not cook long.  Only crush a few berries at a time, using a potato masher, and make sure they are in single layers as you crush them so that each berry gets broken open.  There is no need to purée them as the idea is for the jam to still have some texture to it and not be completely smooth like a jelly.

Adding a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon rind provides an additional flavor boost to the jam.

Blueberry Jam
Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam

This is a super easy and quick jam to make. It is especially good on biscuits, scones, and toast.  It’s also quite delightful dolloped on top of custard or Greek yogurt for a simple and quick dessert.

Jam and Biscuits
Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam on Biscuits

[a printable version of recipe follows at end of post]

Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam

Ingredients:
4 cups crushed high bush blueberries (apx. 2 lbs)
3¼ cups granulated sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 – 85ml pouch Certo liquid pectin
¼ cup Grand Marnier liqueur

Method:
Wash berries.  Using a potato masher, lightly crush berries to release their juice, mashing about one cup at a time, single layer.

In bowl, mix sugar and spices together.  Stir in lemon rind.

Place crushed berries in large pot.  Add the sugar-spice mixture and lemon juice. Stir well and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring to prevent scorching. Once boiling, boil hard for 1 minute, stirring continuously.  Remove from heat and add the pouch of liquid pectin along with the Grand Marnier liqueur.  Stir for 5 minutes, skimming off any foam that may form.  Ladle into hot sterilized jars, filling to about ¼” from the top of each jar. Wipe each jar top. Cover jars with heated lids and screw on bands fingertip tight.  Store jam in refrigerator or cold room. For greater longevity, process in a hot water bath, following canner manufacturer’s directions.

Yield:  Apx. 7 half-pint jars

Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam

Yield: Apx. 7 - 1/2-pint jars

A quick and easy-to-make jam that is flavored with spices and Grand Marnier liqueur

Ingredients

  • 4 cups crushed high bush blueberries (apx. 2 lbs)
  • 3¼ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 - 85ml pouch Certo liquid pectin
  • ¼ cup Grand Marnier liqueur

Instructions

  1. Wash berries. Using a potato masher, lightly crush berries to release their juice, mashing about one cup at a time, single layer.
  2. In bowl, mix sugar and spices together. Stir in lemon rind.
  3. Place crushed berries in large pot. Add the sugar-spice mixture and lemon juice. Stir well and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring to prevent scorching. Once boiling, boil hard for 1 minute, stirring continuously. Remove from heat and add the pouch of liquid pectin along with the Grand Marnier liqueur. Stir for 5 minutes, skimming off any foam that may form. Ladle into hot sterilized jars, filling to about ¼” from the top of each jar. Wipe each jar top. Cover each jar with heated lids and screw on bands fingertip tight. Store jam in refrigerator or cold room. For greater longevity, process in a hot water bath, following canner manufacturer’s directions.
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Blueberry Jam
Blueberry and Grand Marnier Jam

Locovore’s Picnic – Food Day Canada 2016

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Summer Picnic
Picnic at Fort Amherst, PEI

As I write this post on July 30th, I am celebrating Food Day Canada with a picnic featuring local Prince Edward Island food products.  Food Day Canada is a day set aside to celebrate all the wonderful foods that we, as Canadians, enjoy.

For today’s picnic location, I have chosen the iconic Fort Amherst site, just across the harbour from Charlottetown. The building in the background of the photo above is known as the Blockhouse Point Lighthouse. The beacon for sailors was established in 1851 and is the second oldest lighthouse on the Island. Automated in 1962, no one lives in the lighthouse anymore but it was built with a two-story dwelling attached for the lighthouse keeper and his family.

We like to travel the Island in the summer and often pack a picnic lunch.

Picnic
Picnic Lunch

I like to sometimes pack individual picnic boxes or baskets, as I have done today.  Each basket is like a personalized gift and it’s great fun to see picnic guests unpacking their baskets and discovering what surprises await them. It’s also a great way to customize the baskets to accommodate those with special dietary needs and food preferences since their lunch basket can be prepared especially for them. Nothing makes a guest feel more special than when the host/hostess plans and prepares for their special food needs!

The only downside to this style of picnic is that the baskets are obviously not insulated so, for travel purposes, I recommend they be transported inside a large insulated cooler with ice packs.

I have named this picnic the Locovore’s Picnic since I have selected Island products for the basket contents. Here’s the menu:

Locovore’s Picnic

Main

Sandwich – Larkin’s smoked chicken breast with Schurman Family Farm organic tomatoes and lettuce from the garden all on bread from Mary’s Bake Shoppe

Side

Tossed green salad with lettuce freshly picked from our garden and peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes from Schurman Family Farm

Beverage

Homemade Rhubarb Cordial

Sweet Ending

Anne of Green Gables Island-made chocolate

Here’s a closer peek into the lunch baskets, each of which is lined with a white cloth napkin.  I had just poured the lemon-lime soda into the rhubarb cordial (recipe here) before this photo was taken so it is still quite fizzy!

Picnic Basket Lunches
Individual Picnic Baskets

And, here’s a closer look….

Chicken Sandwich
Smoked Chicken Sandwich

I love packing the salads in these little glass jars. I have separate small containers for the vinaigrette which, of course, should only be added to the salad at the time of serving.

Salad
Salad in a Jar

Choosing a good quality bread will help the sandwich to hold together, especially if adding a number of ingredients as I have done here. Mary’s Bake Shoppe in Kensington, just outside Summerside, makes great bread and a number of different kinds. The one in the photograph below is oatbran bread, one of my all-time favorites.

Picnic Sandwich
Smoked Chicken Sandwich

I wrapped each sandwich in parchment paper secured with twine. This helps to keep it intact.

Sandwich Basket
Sandwich Basket Contents

I have used a turquoise color theme for today’s picnic – it has a real summery feel to it!

Color-themed Picnic
Turquoise Summer Time Picnic

The flowers were picked from our own garden. It’s the little touches that make the event more special!

Summer Bouquet
Summer Flower Picnic Bouquet

Time to stop photographing and eat lunch!

Picnic Lunch
Let’s Eat Lunch!

Curious to know what’s in that tiny white box with the pretty turquoise ribbon?

Chocolates
Anne of Green Gables Chocolates

These chocolates are hand-made right here on Prince Edward Island and they are quite divine!

Anne of Green Gables Chocolates
Handmade PEI Chocolates

So, there you have it! This is how I spent Food Day Canada 2016!

Picnic
The Locovore’s Picnic Basket

Great food with a lovely view! A perfect PEI summer day!

Prince Edward Island Picnic
Picnic at Fort Amherst PEI

Thanks for coming along on my picnic this afternoon!

PEI Picnic
Picnic at PEI’s Fort Amherst

Strawberry Rhubarb Popsicles Recipe

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Fruit Popsicles
Strawberry Rhubarb Popsicles

One of the quintessential summertime treats would have to be popsicles!  They’re cool and refreshing and there are so many flavor combinations.

The one thing I find about homemade popsicles is that it is difficult to get them to freeze rock hard like the commercial varieties.  One method I use is to add unflavored gelatin to the mix. While it won’t freeze as hard as store-bought ones which probably have all kinds of stabilizers added to them, adding gelatin does extend the life of the popsicles a wee bit before they melt. It also helps to hold the ingredients together.

Homemade Popsicles
Strawberry and Rhubarb Summertime Treats

One of my favorite flavor combos is strawberry and rhubarb. I use rhubarb juice (made from cooking the rhubarb and extracting its juice) in a lot of recipes, including this one.

To make this an adult treat, try serving the popsicle in a wine glass and adding a sparkling or rosé wine such as pinot noir rosé.

Rosé Wine with Popsicles
Strawberry Rhubarb Popsicles

Combining two great summer flavors, these are the perfect treat to cool off with this season.

Strawberry Rhubarb Popsicles
Homemade Popsicles

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Strawberry Rhubarb Popsicles

Ingredients:
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water

4½ cups rhubarb, chopped into ½” pieces (apx. 1 lb. 2 oz)
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup water

4½ oz strawberries
2 tbsp granulated sugar
½ tbsp strawberry balsamic vinegar
Dash salt
½ tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Epicure Summer Berry Dip Mix (optional)

1 tbsp unflavored gelatin dissolved in 3 tbsp of the rhubarb juice
¼ cup boiling water

1/3-cup popsicle molds (enough for 9-10 popsicles)

Method:

In small saucepan, combine the first amount of sugar and water to make a simple syrup.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and boil gently for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool completely.

After simple syrup has cooled, cook the rhubarb and second amount of sugar in 1 cup water for about 7-10 minutes or until rhubarb is soft and mushy.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Discard the pulp. This should yield approximately 1½ cups rhubarb juice.

Purée the strawberries and stir in 2 tbsp sugar.

Dissolve the gelatin in 3 tbsp of the rhubarb juice.  Add ¼ cup boiling water.  Stir 1-2 minutes until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

In large measuring cup, combine the simple syrup, rhubarb juice, puréed strawberries, strawberry balsamic vinegar, salt, lemon juice, Summer Berry Dip Mix (optional), and gelatin.  Stir well.  Distribute mixture evenly between 9-10 popsicle molds.  Insert popsicle sticks and covers that came with the popsicle molds and place in freezer to freeze completely.  If using wooden popsicle sticks, freeze the mixture for approximately 1 hours until thick and slushy, then insert the wooden sticks and return popsicles to freezer to freeze completely.

Yield:  Apx. 9-10 popsicles

Popsicles in Wine
Strawberry Rhubarb Popsicles in Wine

Strawberry Rhubarb Popsicles

Yield: 9-10 popsicles

Serving Size: 1/3 cup

Blend of strawberries and rhubarb combine to make flavorful and refreshing popsicles, the perfect summertime treat for hot summer days.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 4½ cups rhubarb, chopped into ½” pieces (apx. 1 lb. 2 oz)
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4½ oz strawberries
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • ½ tbsp strawberry balsamic vinegar
  • Dash salt
  • ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Epicure Summer Berry Dip Mix (optional)
  • 1 tbsp unflavored gelatin dissolved in 3 tbsp of the rhubarb juice
  • ¼ cup boiling water

Instructions

  1. In small saucepan, combine the first amount of sugar and water to make a simple syrup. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and boil gently for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  2. After simple syrup has cooled, cook the rhubarb and second amount of sugar in 1 cup water for about 7-10 minutes or until rhubarb is soft and mushy. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Discard the pulp. This should yield approximately 1½ cups rhubarb juice.
  3. Purée the strawberries and stir in 2 tbsp sugar.
  4. Dissolve the gelatin in 3 tbsp of the rhubarb juice. Add ¼ cup boiling water. Stir 1-2 minutes until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
  5. In large measuring cup, combine the simple syrup, rhubarb juice, puréed strawberries, strawberry balsamic vinegar, salt, lemon juice, Summer Berry Dip Mix (optional), and gelatin. Stir well. Distribute mixture evenly between 9-10 popsicle molds. Insert popsicle sticks and covers that came with the popsicle molds and place in freezer to freeze completely. If using wooden popsicle sticks, freeze the mixture for approximately 1 hours until thick and slushy, then insert the wooden sticks and return popsicles to freezer to freeze completely.
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Fruit Popsicles
Strawberry Rhubarb Popsicles

(Mostly) PEI and Maritime Food – Good Food for a Good Life!