Thursday, May 11, 2017

Blueberry jam

A couple of weeks ago, I was rooting around in the pantry while making my grocery-shopping list. I noticed that I was getting low on jam. I did have three unopened jars of peanut butter, though. That was heartening. We'll be able to survive a Peanut-Pocalypse with that kind of supply. I had just one jar of jam left - raspberry, made last summer. That was my favorite homemade jam so far. I really want to make more, but it will probably be a few weeks before raspberries are in great supply.

I decided to watch the grocery-store circulars (I get them in a handy bundle with my mail on Tuesdays) for good fruit sales. The first good sale to come along happened to be on blueberries, so I bought eight half-pints on my next shopping trip. I was excited! I'd never made blueberry jam before, and in fact, I don't think I'd even eaten it, aside from jam made with a blend of berries. But we all love blueberries, and they really looked nice when I checked them out in the store, so blueberry it was. I was in need of lids, so I ordered some more (check out this great deal I found on Amazon - the four-pack is really economical) and soon, I was jammin'.

Eight half-pints was more than I needed, but it was such a good price and we can always find a home for fruit around here. My recipe called for four cups of mashed fruit, or 1 1/2 quarts of whole berries. This equaled about six half-pint containers of berries, give or take; I think my fruit actually measured closer to five cups after it had been mashed. (I followed the recipe that came with my powdered pectin).

I was a little surprised at how the berries looked when I crushed them with my trusty potato masher. The colors were awful, all mucky green and brown. The berry skins were a little hard to break through, but enough mashing and they went down eventually.

As mentioned, I used powdered pectin in my jam, adding it to the crushed berries before beginning to heat them. I used pectin last summer with my raspberry jam and it worked so beautifully. I used to think it was cheating to add pectin, because you can make jam without it. You can use some ratio of ripe fruit to under-ripe fruit, or combine high-pectin fruits with low-pectin ones. I've done this with some success, but I find it complicated. So I gave myself permission to use pectin and I'll never look back. Jam-making feels foolproof now.

My recipe said I'd get four to five half-pints of jam, but I actually got almost six and a half! That was a nice surprise. The partial jar was for eating right away, as usual. The rest of the jars were processed in a hot-water bath for safe storage and later use.

Here's how I made my jam, including notes on my own preferred methods. There are many ways to do it, but these are my own personal jammy ways. I hope you'll find them helpful.

Blueberry Jam

1 1/2 quarts whole berries or 4 cups crushed berries
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon butter or margarine (to reduce foaming)
1 package powdered pectin
4 cups granulated sugar

Prepare jars, lids and bands. I like to wash everything in hot, soapy water. Then, I place the jars on a baking sheet in a 250-degree oven, to sterilize and heat them, while the jam cooks. My lids and bands go into a medium saucepan filled with water to cover them, which I bring to a boil and leave to simmer on the stove while I work.

Wash and sort the berries. Crush them in a large pot (I use a potato masher). Stir in lemon juice, butter and pectin. Measure the sugar into a bowl and set it aside.

Heat berry mixture over high heat until it comes to a full rolling boil. Stir in sugar all at once and bring back to a full rolling boil. Cook at a full boil for exactly one minute, then take the pot off the heat. Skim off any foam with a spoon.

Quickly ladle jam into hot jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of the top. Wipe the rims with a damp paper towel, then add the lids and bands. Screw on the bands "fingertip-tight," then process them if you so desire. The jars should seal on their own after they come out of the bath. You may need to screw down the bands a little tighter as the jars cool.

(I follow US Department of Agriculture guidelines for canning jams and jellies, a helpful PDF for which can be found here. I don't have a formal canner, but I make a pretty good canning bath in a stockpot lined on the bottom with a dishtowel. I fill it about halfway with water and bring it to a boil. Then I place the jars in the pot, which displaces the water enough to cover them by a couple of inches. If necessary, I use a big ladle to remove some of the water so it doesn't overflow on the boil. I always add ten minutes to my processing time because I live at high altitude (approximately 5,500 feet above sea level). Elevation matters in canning. Ball and Kerr have some reference charts on this subject right here, if you're interested).

I think raspberry jam is probably still my favorite, especially of the kinds I've made myself, but this blueberry jam is really good too. In a way, it reminds me of cranberry sauce, but not as tart. It was really good on buttered toast. And look at the color! It's nothing like that early, mashed muck in the pot. Pretty, pretty. We all like it a lot and now I've got something fresh and new to go with all that peanut butter.


  1. It looks delicious! I made peach jam for a couple of years, but I've gotten lazy and not made any in a while.

  2. Hi Jennifer! Well, that was a nice lesson in jam making! Thank you!
    I bought strawberry jam today. I've never been a jam maker but I'd like to be. I have moved to sun butter (sunflower) instead of peanut butter because peanut butter makes me sluggish.
    Way to go, good domestic diva!

  3. It really is pretty! I made blueberry jam when my kids were young and they liked it. We don't eat jam much anymore so I haven't made it recently. My favorite is raspberry too.

  4. It is funny that something that looks so unappealing at one stage can settle into yummy beauty eventually :) We are eating some grape jam my youngest adult son made, and it turned out great, too, but I will have to ask him if it went through an unappealing looking phase, too. I bet it did! xx

  5. That blueberry jam looks and sounds delicious! Wish I had some motivation to make some plum jelly. It's my favorite. I grew up with wild plum jelly because the wild plums were plentiful in Oklahoma where my mom is from. My grandmother would make jars and jars of it every year. Your kids will remember all the wonderful things you do like this! You seem to be such a good momma. ♥

  6. What a wonderful post Jennifer. I enjoyed watching the process of your blueberry jam making. I've never made jam, but my very favorite to eat is strawberry. Maybe I'll have to try my hand at that sometime. Yours looks so delicious and gives me encouragement.
    Blessings, Betsy

  7. Lovely, I've never tried blueberry jam but I bet it's delicious. Raspberry is one of my favourites too, and a mix of raspberry and strawberry is very good. Love plum and apricot (separately!) too, now you have me craving jam! CJ xx

  8. Your blueberry jam does look scrumptious! I've always made my jam without pectin but sometimes the jam can be a bit runny - especially strawberry jam - so, if using pectin solves that, it must be worth a go. :o)

  9. Your jam looks lovely. I've made greengage jam before and we all loved it. I made 2 batches, the first was too well set, but the second was much better. It's surprising what you can do once you know how. Cx

  10. Yes, blueberries look quite unappealing when they are mashed. But, as you discovered, once cooked they are a brilliant shade of deep blue. Blueberries and raspberries mixed together make a wonderful jam too!

  11. well done!!! looks and sounds delicious!

  12. I love jam, raspberry is my favourite followed closely by apricot, yum xx

  13. Jam making is a hearty hobby, that looks delicious. I have never made Blueberry jam. It would cost a fortune in the UK! Jo x

  14. I've just read Christina's post over on her A Colourful Life blog about jam and now yours, they're making me crave a scone smothered in jam. I've never made blueberry jam but I have made bilberry jam, which is a type of wild blueberry and very delicious.

  15. Jam making season is here, yay! I would love to try that but blueberries are really expensive in the UK so I don't think it would be very economical. Unless I bought frozen ones? I love blueberries though, especially on my porridge in the morning. I like to make jams or jellies with free fruit, like brambles/blackberries, if I can, but sometimes you've just got to buy the fruit you like. As for pectin, I always add it to raspberry and strawberry jam now after once boiling jam for so long that half of it evaporated! x

  16. Looks fantastic. I love making my own jam, it is so satisfying. You have put me in the mood! X


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