Blueberry Jam

17 Aug

So I was up in Northern Quebec recently, ostensibly working on a project, but in reality spending the majority of my time picking blueberries. I devoted at least a good hour every day to gathering fruits to put in breakfast porridge and pancakes, and before I left I spent three hours in a field on a rocky hillside so that I could bring several large containers of them home. However, I couldn’t simply freeze the vast multitudes since I move in about a week, and I didn’t even want to think about the possibility of bowls of melting blueberries or slowly going bad on the lengthy car trip. I could, I suppose, have made ten different types of baked goods, but the weather here has been hovering around 31 every muggy, miserable day this week, and that much time spent in front of the stove seemed less than desirable.
Accordingly, I made jam.

The jam itself was actually fairly simple to make. The two steps that took the most time were (1) picking over and washing the ten odd cups of berries that I had collected and (2) sterilizing the infernal mason jars, which are quite pretty to look at, but far more trouble that you would expect. A friend of mine suggested that I look for a packet of Certo, which is a type of pectin product, which comes with a leaflet chock full of recipes and suggestions for the novice jam maker.

Once you have:

  • 1 packet of Certo
  • 4 medium sized mason jars
  • Around 8 cups of whole blueberries (4 cups crushed fruit)
  • 5 cups of sugar
  • 2 tbsps lemon juice

then you’re set to start making your jam.

After getting all of your ingredients together the process is even simpler – measure out the sugar, measure out the lemon juice, and mash up the blueberries.

I used a potato masher to crush the fruit.  Some people apparently prefer food processors, but I like to be able to taste individual chunks of fruit in my jam, so I’m slightly biased towards the less mechanized approach. Once you’ve got all of your ingredients ready, sterilize your mason jars. The method that I used can be found here, but the next time I make jam I think I’m going to try to sterilize them in the oven. What is most important is that you never put the glass directly into a high heat environment – you have to let the jars warm up with the air or water around them.

Once your jars are happily bubbling away (possibly waiting to burn your hands when you pull them out of the pot with barbecue tongs as mine did, but I digress), empty the 4 cups of crushed blueberries into a large saucepan or pot.  Then,

(1) Stir the lemon juice and pectin crystals into the blueberries.

(2) Bring to a boil over high heat – you might want to wear an apron. I got splattered blueberries all over the shirt that I was wearing, because they tend to get a bit overexcited when heated.

(3) Once they’re boiling, add your five cups of sugar.

(4) The Certo recipe says to allow the mixture to boil for another minute, but I let mine boil for a few more minutes and it was still fine.

(5) Remove the pan from heat, and allow it to cool while stirring fairly continuously for the next five minutes.

(6) Pour the still warm mixture into the mason jars that you have deftly removed from the pot of water in advance, without burning yourself.

(7) Put the sterilized tops on the jars, and screw on the caps. The jam will take a few hours to set – at least until the jars cool.

(8) If you are like me, you might want to write the date that you made the jam on top of the jars. Certo promises that they can be stored (unrefrigerated & unopened) for up to a year.

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One Response to “Blueberry Jam”

  1. Cleo August 17, 2009 at 12:19 am #

    I have to say that though I have not tried this recipe yet myself (I haven’t spent nearly enough time in Northern Quebec), I have tasted this jam and it is spectacular. I can’t wait for your next post and the next taste test!

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