Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I be jammin'

Blueberry Homesteader Wanna-be Jam

I must admit that I fancy myself an urban homesteader of sorts. I have a small backyard garden where I grow lettuce, greens, garlic, tomatoes, tomatillos, and lots of other veggies that the rabbits enjoy more than we do. Last year I preserved some of the harvest by canning and freezing the produce; I made a delicious salsa verde, roasted and froze peppers and made red pepper spreads and pesto galore (which we are still enjoying). I planted a fruit tree (cherry) and am getting chickens (one week and counting!!). When the rain barrel and compost bin are full, I also feel full.

I also admit that I cheat a lot. I buy shares of a local CSA because I don't have a huge garden. And recently I decided to make some blueberry jam from frozen berries that were gifted to me. Honestly, I don't think I could ever grow enough of any kind of berries to freeze them in quantity. They barely make it inside the back door.

I ended up with about 20 cups of frozen berries, and had been making lots of blueberry sauce for pancakes, but decided that it would be fun to can some jelly. I haven't made jam in years and found it surprisingly easy, once I read the directions about 5 times. You just have to remember to mix the pectin with the sugar before mixing it with the berries. The pectin package instructions also varied slightly from the recipe I found online, so I sort of compromised. The jelly firmed up a little bit more than I would like, but the taste--delicious! Farm fresh, as they say.

I love filling up my family on homemade, homegrown and delicious food. Nothing is better that homemade jam that simply contains berries, sugar and lemon juice--unless it also contains alcohol. Next time I'm adding brandy!

Blueberry Jam

10 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup lemon juice
4.5 cups sugar
calcium water (came with pectin)

You'll need about 6 canning jars and lids.
You'll also need a smasher of some sort or a food processor.

1. Sterilize the jars and lids by boiling them for about 5 minutes.
2. Put berries in a large pot on stove over medium-high heat. You can smash them or process them, depending on how chunky you like your jam.
3. Add lemon juice and any other liquid (like brandy?). Some recipes call for 1/4 cup of water, or calcium water.
4. Mix the pectin (according to directions) with 1/4 cup of sugar in a bowl and add to berries.
5. Bring to a full boil.
6. Add remaining sugar and bring to a boil again. Boil for 1 minute at a hard boil.
7. Pour into dry, sterile jars. Make sure jars are warm. I remove them and dry them just prior to adding jelly. This prevents breakage.
8. Seal with lids and invert until cool to seal. Test tops of lids to make sure they sealed.

Some people also do a boiling water bath to prevent spoilage, but I have always use the inversion method, and have never had a problem.



Megan said...

Isn't that funny that you sometimes have to read and re-read the directions..... I found that when wine is in hand, I do sometimes miss something! Jam looks great!

Brittany Rice said...

That recipe sounds really good - the blueberry sauce for pancakes sounds really good too. Especially right now - the morning after your kick-butt dance class. This morning I am sore and hungry :) both great feelings.