- Blueberry Zucchini Muffins – click for recipe
- Strawberry Scones – click for recipe
- Easy Freezer Jam – recipe below
- Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans – recipe below
One of my most treasured summertime events is when we go berry picking. I love to walk through the local orchards and see the trees and bushes dripping with ripe fruit. Although we have our own small garden that we tend, it’s a great learning experience for my kids to walk around and see firsthand how our food is grown. They appreciate it more and waste less when they become aware of how much goes into the growing process of the beautiful summer fruit.
We like to go to our favorite place to pick fruit, G and S Orchards in Walworth, NY a few times over the summer to get the ripest fruit when it’s ready: July for strawberries, raspberries, and cherries, August for blueberries and late strawberries, and September to October for apples.
We make a day of it, leaving early in the morning and picking until our fingers are fruit-stained and our truck can’t fit any more baskets. When we get home, we turn on some music, set the mood, and we all chip in and process the fruit. All gets washed first in a vinegar and water bath, rinsed, and then spread out on cookie sheets lined with paper towels. Then, we generally process the fruit three ways:
- Flash freeze:
We pick a lot of fruit, enough to fill 6-8 cookie trays, so some trays go straight to the freezer to flash freeze to use for the winter months. We like to put the frozen blueberries in pancakes, muffins, breads, and smoothies all year long for a taste of summer when it’s frozen outside. I wait until they are frozen and then transfer to gallon sized Zip-lock bags and store them flat in the deep freeze, where they last for around 6 months.
- Baked goods:
Some of the fruits get baked into all types of muffins and breads. We eat a respectable amount over the next few days, but most of the baked goods get frozen to use in school lunches and snacks. My boys love to see a blueberry muffin with cream cheese at snack time, or some zucchini blueberry bread with chocolate chips in their lunch boxes as a treat.
Click here for the recipe for blueberry zucchini muffins.
This is my absolute favorite strawberry scone recipe. They freeze so well, so I like to make a double batch and then we can pig out – I mean my KIDS can pig out- and then there is another stashed away in the deep freeze.
- Freezer Jams and Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans
The rest of the fruit that we pick, plus any fruit we get from the farmers’ market over the summer, gets made into the most delicious and EASY freezer jam. Now, please don’t get spooked by this because I promise you that freezer jam is much easier than it sounds. One day I aspire to learn how to make real canned jam with a canner and water baths and all, but in the meantime, this freezer jam is the perfect easy substitute.
The active time for this recipe is only 15 minutes, and then the jars of jam need to sit still to set for around 3 hours. Then, I pop them in the deep freeze and give them to my family as Christmas gifts or use them as a fruit topping on toast, ice cream, yogurt, oatmeal – the list goes on and on!
Easy Berry Freezer Jam (adapted from Everyday Food)
- 3lbs of washed, hulled, and chopped strawberries (or any berry or mix of fruits works)
- 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
- 21/2 cups white sugar
- 1/3 cup unsweetened pectin
Wash and sterilize (in the dishwasher is easiest, or you can give them a boiling water bath) jam jars. I use assorted sized Mason jars – six 6oz jars for gifts and five 16oz jars for us because three words –ice cream topping.
Wash and pat dry strawberries. Roughly chop or crush them. I use an immersion blender to process the berries quickly. In a medium pot, add the crushed fruit and lemon juice and bring to a boil.
In a separate bowl, combine sugar and pectin, making sure they are mixed well. Add the sugar mixture to the fruit mixture and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil for 1 minute and remove from heat.
Transfer the jam to the jars, making sure to leave ½ inch head space. Seal jars and let sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours until set and then store in the fridge (up to 3 weeks) or freezer (up to 6 months – they make great gift with scones or muffins).
Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans – (recipe adapted from Women’s Day)
Another favorite summer recipe of ours are these tasty pickled green beans. I love all things pickled, so when I saw a recipe in one of my magazines, I was so excited to try it! They are the easiest thing to make – again less than 15 minutes – and only a few ingredients.Perfect for snacking or serve them as a side at your next BBQ!
- 12 oz. green beans, cleaned, with ends cut off
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- ¼ cup fresh dill (or you can use whole dill seed)
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
In a small pot, combine 1 cup of water, vinegar, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sugar and salt dissolve, about 3 minutes.
Fill two wide mouth canning 16 oz. jars with trimmed green beans. Divide the garlic, dill, and red pepper flakes between the jars, then pour the cooled liquid over the beans until they are covered.
Refrigerate overnight and enjoy!
What are your favorite summertime recipes? Do you preserve summer fruits and vegetables, too? I’d love to hear your ideas!