Taste of the Region #15: (U-Pick) Blueberry Jam in 10 easy steps

It is blueberry season and the group expedition to the bushes is an old Northeastern tradition. In Ralph Waldo Emerson's eulogy for Henry David Thoreau, he claimed that “he had no greater aspiration than to be captain of a huckleberry party.” Of course, it's sometimes easier to collect berries than it is to eat them before they go bad. Blueberries freeze relatively well, but one of the finest ways to keep them is in the form of blueberry jam.

The following recipie for simple blueberry jam is based on one from my housemate Zay, who got it from her grandmother. She calls it "blueberry crack" for its addictive sweetness and I'll swear by its deliciousness. After the recipie are resources for more information about canning and how to find a u-pick farm near you. For the more adventurous, here is a guide to finding wild blueberries. Good luck!

Blueberries 4 c.
Lemon Juice 2 tbsp.
Sugar 4 c. (this can vary, see below)
Pectin 1 pkg

Supplies (details here)
Jar Funnel
Jar Grabber
Large Pot (16-20 quart)
Large spoons and ladles
1 canner (a huge pot used to sterilize the jars)
Mason jars, lids and rings (note that jars and rings may be reused by not lids)

1. When choosing blueberries, remember “garbage in, garbage out.” If you won’t eat it now, it won’t get any better if put into jam and can in fact ruin an otherwise good jar. Wash and sort your blueberries, removing stems, rotten and un-ripened berries
2. Sterilize your jars, either by using the “sterilize” function on a dishwasher, or by washing them in hot soapy water and then boiling the jars for 10 minutes and keeping them hot until used (you can do this by putting them upside down on a clean cloth or keeping them in a dishwasher set at “heated dry.”
3. Heat the lids (to make the glue gummy) in boiling water for a few minutes and then keep them warm.
4. Crush your berries, either with a potato masher or in a food processor.
5. Prepare your pectin (if you’re using dry, instructions are on the box) or just mix in liquid pectin.
6. Bring blueberries, pectin and lemon juice to boil.
7. Add sugar. Check your box of pectin to determine how much sugar is appropriate. You can also substitute juice (such as apple, grape, peach) at a little less than half your suggested sugar amount.
8. Bring back to a hard boil for 1 minute.
9. Test the jam—does it stick to a spoon like jam should?—if so, you’re done, if not add a bit more pectin and repeat steps 8 and 9.
10. Fill the jars up to a ¼ of an inch from the top and wipe off any spillage on the rim. Put them into boiling water of the canner. Keep them in the boiler at least 5 minutes, check your pectin box for more instructions.

Remove the jars and let them cool. Your jam is done!

For spiced jam add 1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon, cloves and allspice to fruit along with lemon juice.

Simple recipe
Detailed instructions for jam making
Variant recipes
Sugarless recipe

Canning Resources
How do I can? from the National Center For Home Food Preservation
USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning

Upstate U-Pick Farms
A nice, regionally-organized list of blueberry u-picks
New York-wide List (scroll down, it's a pretty short list)
Finger Lakes U-Pick
Central New York U-Pick

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