Monday, July 11, 2011

Putting Food By: Blueberry Jam

It's blueberry season! At the farmer's market on Saturday, I bought 2 quarts of blueberries with the intention of canning some jam. Mmmm.

I'm going to outline the steps I took to make jam, but if you decide to can your own food, PLEASE read the directions in the pectin box and follow them to a "T". If you don't, you could introduce bacteria into your canned food, ruining it and wasting all that time!

To start off, I get everything out that I know I'll need. Canning, especially jams and jellies, is a quick process, so you don't want to be digging around for your canning funnel after you've already taken the boiling jam off the stove!

Dishtowel to set hot jars on, canning funnel, jar rings

Everything ready on the stove: water bath canner, a kettle of boiling water, a small saucepan for lids, a pot for the jam.
 This is when I really wish I had a 6 burner stove. I only need 4 burners, but it would be nice to have a little extra room.
Lids in water ready to sterilize. I put water over them and bring them to a boil and then turn them off.
Clean jars getting ready to go in the water bath canner.
 I've never been able to get that white residue off my canner. I think there's something in the water here.
Blueberries, pectin, sugar and directions!
Whew! I'm already sweating and haven't even started!
 Before you start anything:
  • Wash and rinse the jars
  • Start the water bath canner to boiling. This is a huge pot. (Sometimes the Hubs has to help me dump it back out in the sink because it's so heavy!) It is A LOT of water and takes FOREVER to fill and boil.  
Canning is the only time I wish we didn't have a low-flow kitchen faucet.

Start by rinsing the berries, and removing any stems. (The de-stemming part was actually on the pectin directions. You know that means someone didn't de-stem their berries and called Sure Jell about it. Kind of like the stupid person who blamed McD's for their hot coffee spill. Definitely not a pioneer woman caliber of woman!)
 This was fun. I got to crush berries with a potato masher, one cup at a time.

 Then the berries went on the stove to boil with pectin. Then sugar got stirred in, and boiled some more.
 Then the canning! This part always makes my heart race because it's so fast. It probably doesn't have to be as fast as I make it, but there's hot jars and hot jam and a hot kitchen and I just want it to be over with!

This recipe made 6 half-pint jars of jam, with a little leftover. It was so good I could eat it with a spoon (and I did!)

According to pectin directions, process in the water bath canner. Then pull out and place on a towel, with space between the jars. Within 5 minutes all 6 had "popped", which means they sealed and are safe to store. If any of them didn't seal, they would need to be reprocessed in the water bath canner, or put in the fridge to eat first.

This is what $12 of blueberries, 4 cups of sugar and a box of pectin look like. Definitely a lot tastier than any store-bought jam. After the jars, cool I'll label them with the year and contents.

Start to finish, this probably took 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

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