Mark’s U-pick Blueberries is in Clermont. It does not use pesticides on its plants.
Blueberry season is in full swing in Central Florida. High time to make a new batch of blueberry jam.
While my own blueberry bushes are yielding a bowl every day, I need about 6 cups to make my batch of jam. My Sunday was free, so I headed out early to Mark’s U-Pick Blueberries in Clermont. The farm has a good reputation — and it doesn’t use pesticides — so it was worth the drive to hill country.
Mark was on duty at 8 a.m. when I arrived. He pointed me to rows of Sharp Blues, an old variety of Florida berries that are scarce these days. The six-foot high bushes were loaded. And I had the farm practically to myself. I set to work and filled a bucket with four pounds of berries in about 90 minutes.
Back home, I took the stems off the berries and mulled what flavors I would pair with the blueberries in this batch of jam. Sage? No, I do that with blackberries. I wanted an herb from my garden. Mint was a candidate. So was thyme. Then I remembered my lone lemon-basil plant. That had real possibilities.
I typically use lemon zest and lemon juice in my blueberry jam, but my Meyer lemons are green right now. I have several limequats that needed to be eaten, so I would use those instead. Limequats are a hybrid of key limes and kumquats, reputed to have originated in Lake County near Mark’s U-pick farm.
I adapted my Spiced Blueberry Lemon Jam recipe and made this scrumptious delight:
Blueberry Lemon Basil Jam
(Makes five 8 oz. jars)
- 6 cups blueberries
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup Stevia in the Raw (or you could do sugar. I substituted to cut calories)
- 1/4 cup limequat juice (or lemon juice)
- 2 tsp. grated and chopped limequat zest (or lemon zest)
- 10 lemon basil leaves, mashed and chopped
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- Cheese cloth and twine for lemon basil packet
Follow the directions of my Spiced Blueberry Lemon recipe with the following addition:
Mash the lemon basil leaves with a spoon or mortar and pestle to release the flavor. Then chop them and put them into the cheese cloth. Tie up the four corners with twine. Add the packet to your berry mixture during the 10-minute cooking process. Stir often. Remove the packet after the berry mixture is ready. Continue with the canning process outlined in the Spiced Blueberry Lemon recipe.
Prepare to be delighted. The lemon basil and kumquat flavors enhance the blueberries but do not detract. I spread mine on a shortbread cookie for a taste test. I ate it before I could take a picture. I spread another. Snap. Spread. Eat. Repeat.
U-Pick blueberry farms in Central Florida are open now and through most of June. At Mark’s U-Pick, he has varieties that bloom later so he will stay open through July. It is best to call ahead before you head out to confirm any U-Pick is open that day. Hours and days vary depending on the availability of the berries.
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