Berries, jam and muffin fun with kids
“Kuplink! Kuplank! Kuplunk!” It’s the sound of late summer berry picking in Robert McCloskey’s “Blueberries for Sal” where Sal and her mother meet Little Bear and her mother bear on the same blueberry hill.
The moms mistake each other’s children, but all ends well.
Berries are perfect for young children. They are the right size to pick, count, and eat. They are little, but packed with vitamins and minerals. If children are wary of vegetables, try offering berries.
Berry picking is a great way to get the family outside and let children munch as you gather some to take home. They can combine their pails for blueberry snacks, pies, pancakes and muffins or place a bowl next to plates at any meal.
Then talk about what animals like to eat berries. There are many fiction books about berries.
You can have a little economics lesson. Discuss how food gets to our grocery stores and why berries are expensive. What people bring berries to market like farmers, pickers, truck drivers, packers, and grocery store employees?
Show children how to freeze hand-picked or store-bought berries. Spread them flat on cookie sheets so they do not touch each other and place in the freezer. When they are hard, transfer them to freezer bags and lay flat in the freezer. These easy snacks will not clump together.
Kids’ freezer jam
Children can smash some berries and add a few drops of honey for fresh jam, cream cheese and a bagel.
Freezer jam takes only 30 minutes and can have little sugar. This jam uses pectin, a natural thickening agent found in and around plant cell walls that helps bind those cells together.
Jars can be kept in the freezer for a year or refrigerator for three months.
Low-sugar freezer jam recipes are found on premium pectin for less or no sugar needed packages in the canning aisle and surejell.com.
For easy blueberry muffins, you will need 1 cup soy milk, and 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar set aside in a bowl. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl mix 2 cups flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In another bowl, mix 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons oil and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add a little zest of lemon, if desired.
Stir the flour mixture bowl into the sugar mixture bowl.
(You may want to save some of the flour to coat the blueberries.)
Pour in the soy milk and vinegar-curdled mixture. Stir.
Finally, fold in the blueberries gently and place in 25 muffin papers in a muffin pan.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes at 375 degrees. Serve cool.
For more fun, see grandparentsteachtoo.blogspot.com and wnmufm.org/Learning Through the Seasons.