Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What to Do With 10 Quarts of Blueberries

I posted a little over week ago about our adventures in picking blueberries. We picked ten quarts. That's quite a few blueberries! When I planned this little outing, I already had in mind what I was going to do with our beautiful blue bounty of berries (can you tell we're still working on the "b" sound in therapy?) I had allotted in my mind a specific amount for snacks, some for baking blueberry muffins to freeze (they make wonderful quick snacks and breakfasts- just pull out of the freezer and thaw!) but the majority of them were going to be for my very own kitchen adventure. I've resolved myself to learn how to make jams, and preserves, and also how to can them. My first attempt was, as you may have guessed, blueberry jam.

I followed the instructions that I found inside of a package of Ball Pectin. I think other pectin has instructions and recipes, but I'm not sure. I did change some of the things that I did, based on advice that I received from other mommies who can.

Blueberry Jam:
approximately 4 cups blueberries (1 quart or 1.5-2 lbs)
4 cups sugar
2 tbl lemon juice
1 package pectin

Before making my jam, I prepared the jars by sterilizing them in the dishwasher. I placed the lids in hot water, to make the rubber part become gummy (this helps to create a better seal.) I filled my large pot with water- enough that the water level would be two inches above the top of the jars, and I put it on the stove to start to boil.

I washed and sorted the berries, removing any twigs, stems, and squirelly looking berries (and since Jonah had helped pick these, there were a few unripe berries to be taken out.)
I used the food processor to crush the berries, but if you have excess aggression that needs to be vented, you can use a potato masher.
I put the berries, lemon juice, and the pectin into a pot and heated until it boiled and the bubbles couldn't be stirred away. I stirred the berries constantly. With the first batch, I accidentally mixed the sugar into the berries with the pectin. The jam didn't set, and I ended up with blueberry syrup (still just as yummy!)
After the pectin and berries came to a full boil, I added all of the sugar, while stirring constantly. When the mixture came to a full boil again, I boiled it for two minutes.

I then filled the jars. One of the tools I wished that I had was a wide mouthed funnel. It definitely would have made this step much easier. I used a ladle to pour the jam into each jar, until it was 3/4 inch from the top. I used pot holders to hold the jars as I did this, but if you have one of those oven mits that works like a glove, it would be very handy here. I used a wet rag to wipe away spilled jam from the top of the jar, and then placed the lids and rings on. I used ice cube tongs to retrieve the lids from the hot water, but they make a magnetic lid lifter for this purpose as well.

I then placed three jars at a time into the large pot of boiling water and covered the pot with the lid. I boiled the jars for ten minutes. I used a special set of tongs to place the jars into the water and to lift them out. To test if the jars were sealed properly, I pushed on the top of each lid. If the middle of the lid pops up and down (think of all those Snapple commercials, or the lids on baby food jars) then it isn't sealed. I let the jars of jam cool on the counter overnight.
Even though I had a lot of berries, I didn't try to double the recipe or make a lot of jam at once. If you don't do it in small batches, it won't set properly.

Of course, the most fun step is the final step: eating the delicious jam on toast! Even Jonah likes helping with that part.

1 comment:

  1. If you want to really get into jam making I'd highly suggest 175 Best Jams, Jellies and Marmalades (and other soft spreads). I bought a copy last summer and it was a huge help and inspiration with all our jam creations.