Blueberry jam

I’ve been meaning to make blueberry jam for nearly three months now, and finally did last weekend. A bit more finicky than apple butter, but also less time consuming. (Still, if you’re like me, expect it to take a couple hours when all is said and done.) Another great recipe from Rodale’s Stocking Up III. The original recipe also calls for 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. ground cloves, added at the same time as the honey. I’m sure it’s an interesting touch, though I chose to leave it out and it was still great.

I resisted the urge to tinker with the recipe at all. When making jams or jellies, it’s super important to be precise in amounts and timing in order for the magic chemistry of pectin, acid, and sugar to “gel.” Since this recipe doesn’t contain added pectin, there is no precise time for when the jam is ready — do a “jelly test” – put a small spoonful on a plate and stick it in the freezer for a couple minutes to cool, or just keep an eye on how thick the jam is and stop when it is a little on the runny side of jam (since it will thicken further as it cools.) Don’t forget to remove from heat while you test the consistency! Also, be warned, it will splatter! The challenge is to keep it at a fast boil and not get your arms and stove, wall, counter covered in scalding blueberry juice. Don’t be afraid to adjust the heat.

This filled 5 half-pint jars for me, though the recipe gives 4 half-pints as the yield. I made two batches, rather than trying to double the recipe, which can interfere with the chemistry as well as being difficult to stir.

Blueberry Jam

8 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

3/4 cup apple juice

4 tablespoons and 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice (about 2 lemons worth)

1 cup honey

Puree blueberries in food processor or blender. (Can process frozen in food processor, but need to at least partially thaw blueberries if using blender.) Bring blueberry puree and apple juice to a boil in 8-quart steel or enamel pot, then add honey and return to a boil, stirring constantly. Continuing cooking for about 20-30 more minutes, until thick and “jamlike.” Remove immediately from heat, pour into scalded jars, and process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.*

*For a more detailed explanation of the canning process, check out “Tips of the Trade.”


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