I told you we picked a lot of blueberries.
I’ve realized I like to make jam much more than I like to eat jam.
It’s a problem.
Attention, loved ones (you know who you are), please pretend to be surprised when you receive a box full of jam and preserves in a few months, probably more than you really want or need. Merry Christmas, I love you, now go make some toast.
Of course, I’m not just going to make plain old blueberry jam (boooring!) So I sat down and gazed lovingly at my overflowing buckets and started brainstorming unique blueberry companions. These three won out in the end.
Lime? Bright and tangy.
Blackberry? Knock you out, good (and this black-and-blue is so much better than a bruise).
Honey lavender? Like a spa treatment in a jar (also: I’m resigned to the fact that I will NEVER spell lavender right on the first try).
And since I always get asked… while technically not USDA approved, these jars work perfectly fine for canning and I’ve had great success over the past two years. Marisa even wrote about them not too long ago (and if she approves, well, that’s definitive in my mind). This year I went beyond just the hexagon shape I’d used previously and also ordered some square and oval jars. They make for quite a nice variety. I love the 6 ounce size, it seems much more reasonable than a giant 8 ounce jar of jam.
Since I had 3 opportunities, I decided to experiment with the pectin a bit, and used regular powdered pectin for two batches and liquid pectin for the other. In the past I’ve used low-sugar powdered pectin, so I figured I’d have all the bases covered (other than no-pectin jams which I didn’t have the patience, or enough AC, to handle at the moment).
The verdict? I like regular powdered. For some reason (as evidenced in the loose-set of my peach-lavender last year), the liquid pectin doesn’t set very well. Despite following the instructions on the packet to the letter, the jam is much looser than the ones made with its powdered counterpart. Anyone else have this experience?
That said, sometimes the powder sets up TOO firm for my tastes, so I’ve taken to using slightly less than the full amount. The recipes here are small-batch versions, using 1/2 a package of pectin, but if you prefer a looser set (like I do) make it more like 1/3.
What I do love about added pectin jams are how (relatively) quick they are. No 30-or-more-minute-simmer required. Just boil, add the sugar, boil again for EXACTLY 1 minute, and you’re done. I always suggest following the procedure instructions on your pectin package, as different brands of pectin may have different requirements.
Prepare canner and wash/sterilize 5 half-pint (or equivalent) mason jars. Keep jars in hot (not boiling) water until ready to use.
For blueberry lime, place blueberries in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan along with lime juice and zest. Further crush berries with a fork or potato masher. Whisk pectin mixture into blueberries, and cook over medium-high heat until mixture reaches a full roiling boil that cannot be stirred down. Stir in sugar, then return to a full rolling boil; boil for exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly.
For blueberry blackberry, place berries in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan along with lemon juice. Further crush berries with a fork or potato masher. Whisk pectin mixture into berries, and cook over medium-high heat until mixture reaches a full roiling boil that cannot be stirred down. Stir in sugar, then return to a full rolling boil; boil for exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly.
For blueberry honey lavender (liquid pectin), pour boiling water over lavender. Set aside and let steep for 5 to 10 minutes, then strain and discard flowers. Place blueberries, sugar, honey, lemon juice, and lavender liquid in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium-high heat and boil for a full 2 minutes. Stir in liquid pectin, then return to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down; boil for exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove saucepan from heat and skim off any foam. Ladle hot jam into jars, leaving 1/4-inch of headspace. Wipe jar rims and threads. Screw on lids and rings. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from water and let cool completely, 12 to 24 hours. Check seals. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used within 3 weeks.