Talking about home, children, parenting, homeschooling, recipes, faith and much more. Hope you'll join me!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Homemade Blueberry Jam Recipe

It won't be long before jam-making season is upon us.  It's a busy time in our house, but a welcome one as we cook and can fresh fruit into jam that will line our pantry shelves with oh-so-fruity goodness.  I thought I'd share with you one of the jam recipes I use regularly.  It's from the Sure-Jell pectin insert and has worked well for me the last several years.

I'm surprised every year that we have enough blueberries to make jam because I find myself popping them into my mouth every chance I get!  They're so delicious fresh, but jam is the perfect way to savor that freshness throughout the cold months when summer seems far, far away.

  • 4 cups fresh blueberries, crushed - you'll need about 3 pints of fresh blueberries to yield 4 cups crushed
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 box store bought pectin or 1/3 cup bulk pectin
  • Canning jars with lids and bands
  • Water bath canner with rack and lid
  • Jar lifter
  • Funnel with wide mouth and insert
  • Large bowl
  • Potato masher
  • Measuring cup with a spout
  • 6-8 quart stockpot
  • Small saucepan with water
  • Stirring spoon
  • Pincers
  • Ladle
  • Clean dishtowel
  • Oven mitts
  • Apron - I always wear one because the berry juice stains
You’ll be processing your jam in a water bath canner, fill the canner with water to the top “line”, cover it with the lid, and place on the stove to begin heating.  Due to the amount of water that needs to be brought to a boil, this takes a bit of time and should be started first.  However, every stove varies, so keep an eye on the water so it doesn’t come to a boil for too long before you’re ready to process the jam.  It’s important that there is enough water to cover the jars as they process. 

Next, wash all of your jelly jars and bands either by hand or in the dishwasher.  I prefer the dishwasher because of the high heat that is generated, but if you don’t have a dishwasher, simply use hot soapy water to wash your jars.  Rinse thoroughly and either allow them to air dry or dry them by hand.

NOTE:  Don’t put your lids in the dishwasher because the heat will render them unusable (they won’t seal on the jars).  Once the jars are clean and dry, place them upright in a deep pan.

Once your jars are clean, dry, and in a deep pan, place them into your cold oven.  Next, turn your oven temperature to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.  This way, the jars and the oven heat up at the same time at relatively the same rate.  Your jars will be sanitized by the time the blueberry jam is ready to be ladled into the hot jars.

While your jars are sanitizing in the oven, prepare your fresh blueberries.  Make sure you weed out any blueberries that may be "squishy".  Wash the blueberries and remove any stems.  Crush the blueberries in a large bowl using a potato masher.  Avoid using a food processor to crush your berries.  Jam is supposed to have bits and pieces of fruit in it.  If the berries are pureed, the jam just won't be the same.  However, if you feel you absolutely need to use a food processor, simply use the "pulse" option.  You'll need 4 cups of blueberries for one batch of jam.

Fill a small saucepan ½ full with water.  Bring the water to a boil.  Turn the heat down to a lower setting (like simmer) and place the lids (not the bands) into the water and cover. Allow the lids to sit in the hot water until you are ready to seal the jars.

Measure 4 cups of sugar into a large bowl.  Set aside.  You’ll be adding all of your sugar at once, so it needs to be ready before it’s time to add it to the boiling blueberry jam mixture.

Place your crushed blueberries into the large sauce pot.  Add the pectin.  Also add ½ teaspoon butter or margarine to help keep the mixture from foaming and boiling over during the boiling process.  This is a little trick my Momma shared with me and it really does work!  How do I know?  I've forgotten it sometimes and guess what happens?  

Bring the entire blueberry jam mixture to a full rolling boil.  A rolling boil means that the mixture continues to boil even when it is stirred.  Stir the mixture constantly for one full minute.As soon as the rolling boil is achieved and the mixture has boiled for one minute, pour the entire 4 cups of sugar into the sauce pot with the blueberries and pectin.

Return the mixture to a rolling boil and allow the mixture to remain at the rolling boil for one full minute.  Continue to stir so the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the sauce pot.

After one full minute at a rolling boil, remove the blueberry jam mixture from the heat.  Using a large spoon, skim any foam from the top.

It's time to fill your jars with deliciously sweet blueberry jam.  Remove your heated jars from the oven using oven mitts.  It's important to fill and seal the jars as quickly as possible.

Insert the wide mouth funnel into the first jelly jar.  Using the ladle, fill the jar to 1/4 inch from the top of the jar mouth.  Wipe the jar rim and thread completely.  Cover the jar quickly with a flat lid, using the heated lids in the saucepan.  Screw the bands on tightly.

At this point, (hopefully), the water in the water bath canner is boiling nicely.  Lower the jars of jam into the water carefully using a jar lifter.  Once the water bath canner is full, process the blueberry jam for 15 minutes.   
*I am hoping to take photos of the jam in the water bath canner the next time I make jam and get them posted later in the summer.

After 15 minutes, remove the jam from the water bath canner using the jar lifter and place them onto a cooling rack.  The jars and jam inside will slowly cool.  As this happens, you should hear "popping" noises.  This is the wonderful sound of the lids sealing the jam jars properly.  If for some reason a lid doesn't seal, put that jar into the refrigerator to use right away.  Opened jams can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

Let your blueberry jam stand at room temperature for roughly 24 hours.  Sealed jams should be stored in a dark and dry place away from direct sunlight.  They can be stored for up to one year.  It’s handy to save the boxes that the jars come in so you can put the blueberry jam back into the box, effectively keeping sunlight from it while it’s on the shelf.  Label the box so you know at a glance what jam is in each box.

Now you know how to make blueberry jam in the comfort of your own kitchen!  There is a deep sense of satisfaction after making jam for the first time.  It really doesn't take that much time to make a batch, but you'll reap the benefits for months to come.  Now that you know how to make blueberry jam, you’ll be able to make strawberry jam, raspberry jam, and many others, with only slight differences between each.

I'll be posting recipes for the other jams too, so feel free to stop back soon!

Give jars of homemade jam to friends and family members as gifts.  A jar of jam along with a homemade loaf of bread or cake is a sweet and thoughtful gift at any time of the year.

One important note:
As tempting as it may be, do NOT double jam recipes.  The fruit mixture may set up correctly.  Simply do one batch after another.

I'm linking to Trash to Treasure Follow Friday Roll Call.

Won't you stop by and see her beautiful, informative and fun blog?  Thanks!

All my best to you,