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Archive for the ‘blueberries’


Blueberry-Honey Jam 2

Posted on August 08, 2013 by Sahar

As we are now officially in the dog days of summer, it’s a good time to stay inside and bottle up some of the more pleasant summer memories of summer by making some more jam.

And there are few better memories than (seasonal) blueberries.  While, admittedly, they are not my favorite berry eaten out-of-hand, once blueberries have been cooked, they are a lovely thing.

Wild blueberries are grown as far as ideal conditions will let them; even as far north as human habitation (think northern Canada). Botanists and culinary historians believe that the indigenous peoples of America used wild blueberries for a number of foodstuffs: eating out of hand; drying them in the sun for preservation and use in pemmican (a form of dried meat), cakes, and puddings.  The dried berries were also ground for use in soups.

The blueberry that most of us know today were first commercially cultivated in the early 20th century.  They’re a variety called “highbush”, meaning that they are grown on bushes and small trees as opposed to in boggy soil of the lowbush blueberries.  Highbush berries are also larger than the lowbush varieties. Most  commercial cultivation of highbush blueberries comes from  British Columbia, Maryland, Western Oregon, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Washington.  Lowbush blueberries are a native fruit crop to Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Maine.

Blueberries are in the same genus as cranberries.  The Genus Vaccinium.  Blueberries are also related to lingonberries and huckleberries.  All of these fruits are grown in acidic soil and can have a wide variation in acidity both in pH and in taste.  One thing they all have in common is they are all very high in natural pectin.

(Some information from wikipedia.org and The Oxford Companion to Food, Davidson, 1999).

As I stated above, the indigenous peoples of America have used blueberries for millennia before settlers were introduced to them.  Now, thanks to importation and cultivation, blueberries are grown and eaten all over the world.  They are especially prized in France for use in pastries.

And, of course, for jam.  Yummy, yummy jam.

Now, on to the recipe.

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A few notes:

1.  You can use frozen blueberries in a pinch for this recipe.  I like to use blueberries in season – which, in Texas, would mean May – September – but, I have used frozen in the past and they work fine.

2.  Always buy extra blueberries.  This will make up for any that are bad, not ripe, or what you eat.

3.  If you would like to make this a totally sugar-free recipe, sugar-free honey is available at some grocery and health-food stores.  You can also use maple syrup if you’d rather go that route.  I don’t use artificial sweeteners, Stevia, or Splenda in my jams, so don’t ask about substitutions. Or, you could just omit the sweet component altogether. However, this will affect the set-up of the finished jam.

4.  Don’t forget the lemon juice.  It adds the acidity needed to activate the pectin in the blueberries.

5.  Don’t use too dark a honey (i.e. cotton or buckwheat).  The flavor will overpower the blueberries.  You want them to compliment, not compete.

6.  The set of this jam will also depend on how long you cook it.  The longer you cook, the more solid the set.  However, it won’t set up as stiffly as a jam made with commercial pectin.

7.  For the complete hows and whys of canning, please see my post from August 10, 2012, “Classic Strawberry Jam” (http://www.tartqueenskitchen.com/?p=756).

 

The Ingredients.

The Ingredients.

Beautiful blueberries.

Beautiful blueberries.

 

6 pt. blueberries (12 c./approx. 4 1/2 – 5 lbs)

-or-

8 ea. 10-oz bags frozen blueberries, thawed, juices saved (5 lbs.)

1 c. honey (I like to use wildflower or clover honey)

2 tbsp. lemon juice

 

1.  Wash and pick through the blueberries.  Discard or compost any that are spoiled or underripe.  If you are using frozen berries, place them into a large colander set over a large bowl and allow to thaw.  Be sure to save any juices that accumulate in the bowl.

I ate these.

I ate these.

2.  Combine the berries, honey, and lemon juice in a 4-quart saucepan. (If using frozen thawed berries, add the juice as well.) Stir to combine.  If you want to crush the berries with a potato masher to release some of the juices from the berries, go ahead.  It’s not necessary, however.  The berries will break down as they cook.

Blueberries, honey, and lemon juice in the pot and ready to go.

Blueberries, honey, and lemon juice in the pot and ready to go.

3.  Cover the saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil.  Stir frequently.

4.  Once the mixture has come to a boil, uncover the saucepan, reduce the heat to medium-low and boil the mixture for about 1 hour or until the jam looks thick and glossy.  Again, stir frequently.

The berries beginning to cook and break down.

The berries beginning to cook and break down.

Boiling the berries.  If you like, you can put a thermometer in the jam.  220F is the temperature where jelling happens. However, be patient. This takes time.

Boiling the berries. If you like, you can put a thermometer in the jam. 220F is the temperature where jelling happens. However, be patient. This takes time.

Another way to test the thickness of the jam.  Place a small bit of the jam on a frozen plate (or, in my case, an ice mug), run your finger through it, and see if it runs. Once it gets to the thickness you like, it's done.

Another way to test the thickness of the jam. Place a small bit of the jam on a frozen plate (or, in my case, an ice mug), run your finger through it, and see if it runs. Once it gets to the thickness you like, it’s done.

The jam ready to be jarred.

The jam ready to be jarred.

5.  Once the jam is ready, ladle it into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Be sure to wipe off the rim of the jar, otherwise the jars may not seal properly. Place the lids on top and finger-tighten the rims. Process the jars for 10 minutes in boiling water. (Begin timing after the water comes to a boil.)

6. Take the jars out of the water and set them on racks to cool.  Once the jars have sealed (you’ll hear a “ping” noise, the lid will be concave, and, if you pick up the jar by its lid, it won’t come off), tighten the rims.  Let the jars sit until they are cool.

Nice.

Beautiful, delicious, blue-purple  blueberry jam.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Four Berries Jam 0

Posted on June 06, 2013 by Sahar

Summer is my favorite time of the year for fruit.  Plums, peaches, cherries, nectarines, and, my favorite, berries.  All of them.

Berries are one fruit that are now available all year ’round.  However, I tend to eat them only seasonally.  The fruit sold in the winter not only has little taste but is generally shipped from South America; a very heavy carbon footprint.

Of course, one age-old way to hold on to that summer flavor is to make preserves.  So, that’s what I did.

 

Now, on to the recipe

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A couple of notes:

1.  You can use any combination of berries you like in this recipe.  Just make sure you have 9 cups total.  I used the four most commonly seen in the grocery, but if you find/have gooseberries, boysenberries, etc., you can use those as well.

2.  Always buy extra.  This is to take into account bad berries, trimming, and any that you eat along the way.

3.  Check the date on the pectin.  You want to be sure it’s good.  If it’s out of date, buy new.

4.  To get a full explanation of the hows and whys of canning, please read my post from August 10, 2012, “Classic Strawberry Jam”.

The ingredients

The ingredients

Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries.

Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries.

 

9 cups total fresh berries, trimmed, picked through, and washed  (For this recipe I used 3 c. strawberries, 2 c. blackberries, 2 c. blueberries, 2 c. raspberries)

6 tbsp. powdered pectin

1/4 c. lemon juice

6 c. sugar

 

1.  Wash the jars, lids, and rims in hot soapy water.  Place the jars in a large stockpot of boiling water to sterilize them.  Leave them in the boiling water, topping it off as needed (you need at least 1″ water above the tops of the jars).  Place the lids into a small saucepan.  Bring the water just to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and let the water simmer.  The rims don’t need to be sterilized.

2.  In a large saucepan, take the berries, 1/4 at a time and crush them with a potato masher.  It’s OK if there are some large pieces.  You don’t need to mash the berries smooth.

Crushing the berries.

Crushing the berries.

3.  Add the lemon juice and the pectin.  Stir until the pectin has dissolved.

Adding the pactin and lemon.

Adding the pectin and lemon.

 

The crshed berries, pectin, and lemon mixed together.  And, we're ready to go.

The crushed berries, pectin, and lemon mixed together. And, we’re ready to go.

4.  Place the saucepan over medium heat and, stirring frequently, bring the mixture to a rolling boil.  (You want it to come back to a boil immediately after stirring.)

A rolling boil.

A rolling boil.

5.  Add the sugar and stir until it’s dissolved.

Adding the sugar.

Adding the sugar.

The sugar dissolved and the jam beginning to take shape.

The sugar dissolved and the jam beginning to take shape.

Continue stirring frequently until the mixture again comes to a rolling boil.  Boil for 1 minute.

Another rolling boil.

Another rolling boil.

6.  Remove the saucepan from the heat. Carefully skim the foam from the top of the jam.

Skimming the foam from the jam.

Skimming the foam from the jam.

7.  Take the jars from the boiling water and drain.  Carefully ladle the jam into the jars, leaving 1/4″ of head space in the jar (use a jar gauge to make sure you’re at the right level).

Ladleing the jam into the jars. Use a wide-mouth funnel.

Ladling the jam into the jars. Use a wide-mouth funnel. It certainly reduces mess.

Measuring the headspace in the jar.

Measuring the head space in the jar.

Clean the jar rims with a damp towel.

Cleaning the jar rims. If the rims have any food on them, the jars won't seal properly.

Cleaning the jar rims. If the rims have any food on them, the jars won’t seal properly.

8.  Place the lids and rims (tighten them only finger tight) on the jars and place them back into the hot water.  Bring the water up to the boil and process the jars for 10 minutes.

9.  The jars can take up to 24 hours to seal.  However, it usually doesn’t take that long.  You’ll know the jars are sealed when the lid becomes concave.  You’ll also hear something like a “ping” when the jar begins to seal.  Once the jar is sealed, you can tighten the rim.

Ideally, let the jars sit for about 24 hours before moving them.  But, as long as you let them sit until they are cool, you should be fine.

If the jar doesn’t seal, put it in the fridge and eat the jam within 2 – 3 weeks.  You can also remove the contents from the jar, wash it and the rim, discard the lid, re-sterilize everything, fill the jar again and process.  It’s up to you.

Be sure to label and date the jars.

The finished jam in sealed jars.

The finished jam in sealed jars.

 

Enjoy!

 



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