I made jam! For the first time, if you can believe it. And based on what I licked off the spoon, it’s delicious. I would accompany this with a pretty picture full of jam jars, but it’s evening, and that doesn’t make for nice pictures, so just imagine eight little jam jars all lined up in a row, cooling and sealing on the counter. (The pink laminate counter, but pretend it’s something gorgeous, like oiled butcherblock. Maple, of course. On top of painted white cabinets. Anways…)
This post is more just for my own future reference, but I figure some of you might not mind hearing a few details. I bought two five-pound boxes of transitional organic local blueberries from the health food store (it takes three years of farming organically for a farm to be certified organic). After we consumed one box in ONE DAY, I hid the other box and made it off-limits until I could find time to preserve it somehow. I could have frozen the berries, but that seemed boring, and dried blueberries are yummy but not super useful (and they disappear too fast!), so jam it was.
I bought six boxes of Pomona’s Universal Pectin in preparation for canning season, so I just opened the box and used the recipe inside. (I was going to link to Amazon, but the price is ridiculous, so just look at your local grocery/health food store and find a better deal. I paid well under $3/box, and each box does multiple batches of jam.) Pomona’s is a citrus pectin that does not require sugar to gel, unlike most other pectins that are used for jams and jellies. You can make low- or no-sugar jams, which is awesome. I was going to use honey as my sweetener, but I Googled (of course) and read that it’s easier to get the pectin to mix into the granular sugar than the liquid honey, so I figured I’d stick with easy the first time around. The recipe is very flexible, suggesting anywhere from 2/3 – 2 cups of sugar per 4 cups of mashed blueberries. I made a double batch and settled on a ratio of 8.5 cups of mashed blueberries to 3 cups of sugar, and it’s perfect. Sweet, but not too much, and still definitely tastes like blueberries (not sugar gel with blueberries added for color).
I heated up the blueberries and mashed them with a potato masher, but in the end, I wanted it a little more blended than that, so after the whole recipe was mixed together and almost boiling, I pulled out the immersion blender and smoothed it out a little. Turned out great, with a jam-y texture, but less whole blueberries (which are difficult for little hands to spread with a knife).
I am making us save the eight 8-ounce processed jam jars for winter, but we filled nearly two pints (!) with leftovers for the freezer. Well, one jar for now, and one for the freezer for a few days from now, since my kids will plow through that first pint of jam like nobody’s business. I could have processed at least three more 8-ounce jam jars for winter, but I only prepared eight jars, so this works out fine.
I actually made bread today, too, so I am going to sign off and enjoy myself a nice slice of bread + jam. Happy Canning Season!