July 4th Picnic: Spiced Blueberries & Goat Brie

June 24, 2015(updated on August 30, 2021)

reflective spiced blueberries

Blueberries were one of the very first ingredients that Tenaya and I discussed when we first started talking about creating this 4th of July-themed cheese and preserve picnic. They typically come into season in our area in the last days of June and they can be transformed into all sorts of cheese-friendly preserves.

blueberries in a bowl

Instead of making jam, I opted to make blueberries in a highly spiced, slightly tangy syrup. I wouldn’t call them pickled blueberries, because they don’t pack a huge amount of pucker, but they have a small amount of apple cider vinegar in the preserving liquid to ensure that they taste zippy.

cooking blueberries

We paired these blueberries with a round of goats milk brie and it was an awfully good bite. They were also tasty gently mashed into the homemade graham crackers that Tenaya made. One of our friends who came over to help us eat the cheeses and preserves after our shoot was over was of the opinion that they would also make a very nice addition to a bowl of oatmeal. I wouldn’t disagree.

boiling berries

Like many of the recipes I post here, consider the listed spices as mere suggestions. You can change the flavorings without impacting the safety of the finished preserve. These would be equally good with vanilla beans, lightly crushed cardamom pods, or even some dried hot peppers if you like spicy things.

spiced blueberries and goat brie

You should get three pints of berries from this recipe, with approximately 8 to 12 ounces of liquid leftover. There are two really good things to do with this leftover goodness. You can store it in a jar in the fridge for adding to glasses of sparkling water. Or you can cook it down into a thick syrup that you can then drizzle over slices of toast spread thickly with fresh ricotta. The choice is up to you.

open spiced blueberries

More about our celebratory picnic tomorrow!

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Spiced Blueberries


  • 3 pounds blueberries
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 3 star anise


  • Prepare a boiling water bath canner and 3 pint jars.
  • Wash the blueberries and look them over for lingering stems and leaves.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise. Place over high heat and bring to a boil.
  • Once the syrup reaches a boil and the sugar is fully dissolved, add the blueberries. Return the liquid to a boil and reduce the heat to medium high.
  • Cook the berries for 3 to 4 minutes, until they start to pop and have colored the liquid a deep purple.
  • Using a slotted spoon, evenly divide the cooked berries between the jars. Take care to remove the star anise pieces as you work, so that they don't overwhelm the flavor of the berries. Top with liquid, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Use a wooden chopstick to remove any trapped air bubbles and adjust the headspace, as necessary.
  • Wipe the rims, apply lids and rings, and process the jars in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.
  • When time is up, remove the jars from the canner and place them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. Let them rest for a few days before eating, so that the flavors can mellow and mingle.

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20 thoughts on "July 4th Picnic: Spiced Blueberries & Goat Brie"

  • I was wondering; couldn’t a person wrap the cloves and star anise in cheesecloth bag or use a Mesh Tea Ball when cooking the berries so that it would be easier to scoop out the cloves and star anise?
    Thanks for the recipe. It sounds wonderful.

    1. You could easily do that. I actually leave the cloves in for added flavor, and only pick the star anise out because it’s easy to find. But you could opt for a different way!

  • Looks delicious! Just wondering, is the amount apple cider vinegar integral to the safety or could I reduce the amount? I tend to be very sensitive to the vinegar taste, so I’d prefer to reduce it if I can. Thanks!!!!

    1. You can reduce or omit the vinegar if you don’t like the flavor. It’s not playing a role in safety here, as blueberries are already high enough in acid to be safely canned on their own.

    1. Brooke, you are welcome to try. I haven’t tried it and so can’t predict how your final product will turn out. That said, I imagine it will be fine.

  • Sounds as if the liquid would be wonderful as a “shrub” to mix with sparkling water (or vodka!!)

  • I use mason jars for everything. I buy many masons for myself and my two daughters.
    We use them for canning, leftovers, freezing, food storage, our own mixes,
    And just about anything you can think of. There is something also about the 1/2 gallon
    Masons. We never pass up a purchase of the white shrew tops that also fit the
    Masons – wide mouth and regular. I am going to try your recipes in this post. Love to
    make brittle also. All of our different flavored M&Ms look great in our masons. Thanks.

  • This is delicious, but now I’ve made this recipe twice and it has made more than 5 half pints’ worth–does that seem off?

    1. The yield on those blueberries is three pints, not 5 half pints. Are you sure this is the recipe you’re talking about?

  • I just made a small batch of this with 10 oz of blueberries and ras al-hanout for the spices (an all warm-spice version, nothing like cumin). I reduced the liquid a bit and stirred some into an ad-hoc blueberry lassi. Very refreshing! Can’t wait to try the blueberries with some honey goat cheese.

  • any reason I can’t process these in half pint sizes for smaller servings? thanks for this great recipe.