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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Blueberry Jam

It's blueberry season here in middle Georgia! Despite triple digit heat indexes yesterday, my boy and I went picking. We didn't get a lot picked, just enough for this one batch of jam, but the bushes are loaded with plenty of berries yet to come! I imagine there will be many more trips out there... hopefully on days that aren't quite so hot.

It's been a few years since I made blueberry jam. Long enough that I couldn't remember which recipe I had previously used. I decided to start with Linda Ament's recipe in her Blue Ribbon Preserves book. I tweaked it a bit here and there, but the important part is that her sugar to fruit to pectin ratios are generally spot on and I rarely have trouble with my jam setting with her recipes. This one was no exception.

This recipe makes a nice, large batch of jam: nine half-pints. I like recipes that maximize my time like that! I crushed the berries, measured them out, and heated them slowly with the sugar and lemon juice. I initially was concerned because the mixture seemed so liquid-y, even right up until I poured it into the jars, but the little bit left in the pot began setting up before I even had the lids on the jars! The flavor of this jam is fantastic. The lemon gives the palate a little fresh kick and the hint of cinnamon and nutmeg bring on warm memories of pie and days at grandma's.

Blueberry Jam
Adapted from Linda Ament's Blue Ribbon Preserves
Yield: 9 half-pints

5 cups crushed blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2 TBS fresh, strained lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp butter (salted or unsalted)
1/8 tsp cinnamon
dash nutmeg
7 cups sugar
2 (3-ounce) packets of liquid pectin

Measure the berries into a minimum 7 quart pot. Add the lemon juice, zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar. Stir and heat gently over medium-low heat. When the berries begin to pop and the sugar is dissolved, increase the heat and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil for one to two minutes. Add the liquid pectin, stirring. Return to a full rolling boil and boil, stirring constantly, for one full minute. Remove from the heat. Skim any foam. Let the mixture sit for five minutes, stirring occasionally, to help keep the fruit pieces from floating in the final product. Pour jam into prepared jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Wipe rims with a clean, damp cloth. Put on the lids and process in a slowly boiling water bath for ten minutes for half-pint jars. Increase processing time to fifteen minutes for pint jars. When processing is done, let jars sit in water five minutes with the heat off and canner lid off before removing to cool. This step helps prevent oozing jars, which are never fun.

If you are not an experienced canner, you can check out my Canning 101 post for more details on the process.

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