Blueberries are one of my favorite fruits, hands down. I love them in sweet breads and muffins, fruit salads, in yogurt, with cereal and I REALLY love a nice thick and chunky blueberry spread on my toast. I have always bought my jelly and jam at the supermarket because I had no clue how to do it myself. I had memories of my mother and grandmother producing jar after jar of pretty much anything they could however I had never done more than just eat the finished products.
I decided to take on several culinary challenges a few summers ago - overcoming my fear of yeast was one as well as understanding and enjoying the whole canning and preserving process. I read for days about water bath vs pressure canning, acidity levels, sterilization and on and on. Finally I got up my nerve and decided I was ready to give it a go.
48 hours later, I had blueberry jam, peach preserves, bread and butter pickles, spicy dill pickles, several quarts of tomatoes, an aching back and the most AMAZING feeling of pride and accomplishment. I was hooked from that point on!!
Step 1: Ingredients - Just 4 Folks!!!!
10 c. blueberries (fresh or frozen)
4 c. sugar
1/4 c. lime juice
2 T. lime zest
Step 2: Mash Fruit
In a large, heavy pot add 1/2 of the berries and start to mash them with a potato masher. Add 1/2 of the sugar and mash until most of the berries are broken and juices have started to flow.
Step 3: Add the Rest of the Blueberries, Sugar, and Lime Jiuce
Add the rest of the berries and sugar, stir well and add the lime juice. Save the zest for later, this gets stirred in at the end, after ingredients have boiled down.
Step 4: Boil
Boil the blueberries, sugar and lime juice, stirring occasionally, until it is at a hard, rolling boil - the kind you can't stir down. Keeping an eye on your thermometer, boil mixture until it reaches 215 - 220 degrees. This step takes a little time 20 - 30 minutes.
Step 5: Sterilize Jars and Lids
Place clean jars in water and bring to a boil to sterilize, I boil them for about 5 minutes. Place the jar lids in a smaller pot of of water and bring to a boil. It's important that the lids get hot enough to form a good seal during the canning process.
Step 6: Stir in Lime Zest and Ladle Into Jars
Remove jam from the heat, stir in lime zest. Using a wide mouthed funnel designed for canning, ladle the hot fruit mixture into the hot jars.
Step 7: Release Air and Clean Rim of Jar
Using a bamboo pick or long thin knife, stir the jam in the jar gently to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rim of the jar to ensure it is clean for a good seal.
Step 8: Place the Hot Lids on the Jars
Using the magnet wand that comes with a basic canning supply kit (along with the large mouthed funnel and jar tongs), place a hot lid on the jar and loosely screw on ring.
Step 9: Seal the Jars by in Boiling Water
Gently place the jars into the pot of boiling water, adding more water if needed to make sure they are completely covered. After the water returns to a full boil, start timing and boil for 10 minutes (adjust as needed based on your altitude).
Step 10: Cool and Store
After the processing time has completed, carefully lift jars out of boiling water and set aside to cool. You will hear the "pop" of the lid as the jars seal, ensuring that the jam that you made will be delicious for months to come.
Step 11: Enjoy!
I will tie a cute bow around these and add them to my food gift bags this year at Christmas, but a jar would make a great hostess gift, a teacher gift - add to a basket that has some pancake mix and flavored coffee for a special someone - the possibilities are endless.
Or you can be like me, I am officially calling tonight "breakfast for dinner night" - I don't wait well - I want this NOW....so will you!!