Over a month ago I found myself at a friend’s farm. It was near the end of the day so I was a little surprised to see him standing outside the barn, but I walked over and said hi. Every one I know has been through a lot lately, including him. I asked how he was doing. He said he was tired.
In in hands were a pint of blueberries.
I was having a hard time as well. He offered me a handful of blueberries and they made me feel really happy. I asked him if he was going to be selling blueberries and he told me just to pick some. It is moments like this that are special, when two people having hard days recognize themselves in one another. It is even more special when you follow up such a moment by picking blueberries.
It was a quiet evening with the sun was still hanging lazily in the sky. My farmer friend went to finish his day and go home while I took a little pint box and walked over to the blueberry bushes.
The feeling was vaguely mythical. No people, just the chirping and buzzing of bugs while I picked perfectly blue orbs. They were sweet, and tart. I couldn’t help but feel very zen about the whole experience. I reached a new level of calm.
This was over a month ago now, I think. But this week has been even more difficult. I lost my job. Things like that hurt. Thom has been supportive, as has my family, but I still find myself drifting into exhaustion. I am sure something will work out, but I’m not the type of person who is happy without a job. I like working.
So I have been pickling a lot. I couldn’t exactly tell you why, except maybe because pickling is simple, technical and a little bit intuitive. It’s as though I’ve been giving myself something to do.
I’m pickling my blues these days. Quite literally, I have been trying to perfect my recipe for pickled blueberries. I think I’ve just about got it down, too. They are fun because a blueberry already has character, but pickled they become something more. Pickled blueberries make me think of something my grandmother might have eaten.
(Yields 1 Quart)
- 1 quart very fresh blueberries – you may end up with leftovers
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- An inch of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 Star Anise pod
- A handful of the following
- Cardamom Pods
- Juniper Berries
- Whole Clove
- Whole Allspice
Take a quart size ball jar and line the bottom with the fresh ginger slices. Put in the cinnamon stick, and fill up the jar almost all the way with blueberries. Heat the cider vinegar, water, and sugar in a saucepan. Make a little teabag using cheesecloth and fill it up with the spices. Add the teabag to the saucepan.
Bring the vinegar mix to a boil. This will be your brine. Let it simmer for ten minutes. Take it off the heat and pour it over the blueberries.
Lid the pickled blueberries and let them come to room temp before refrigerating. If you are interested in keeping them shelf stable follow proper canning methods for preserving pickles.