I love blueberries. I can't get enough of them these days. I love them baked in things, added to cereal, ice cream or even just by the handful.
I was starting to get a little sad about thinking about them going away for the year. So, to keep that fresh blueberry taste even in the winter, I made jam.
I started by washing all the blueberries.
Be sure to pick out the bad ones and take the stems off the ones got missed before sent to the store. After all, no one wants stems in their jam.
Then I smashed them. It was kind of fun doing this step. I just used a potato masher. It was quick and easy but I guess you could put them in a food processor if you like. Just pulse them quickly.
Mashing them brings out all the flavor. Don't go over board though. You want to still see some of the whole berries. At least I did.
My best tip for making jam or canning anything is to do all your prep work first. You don't want to have to stop once you get going.
So, I got my fresh squeezed lemon juice measured out ahead of time. Two tablespoons is all I needed. That was 1/2 of a fresh lemon.
Then I measured out my mashed berries. I needed 4 1/2 cups. I put the measured amount in a separate bowl so I could just dump them in when ready.
I did the same with the sugar. For one batch of blueberry jam you need 7 cups of sugar. Yes, that's right 7 cups. Homemade jam uses a lot of sugar.
The recipe I used called for two pouches of pectin. I use liquid Certo. I've never tried any other brand or the dry pectin so, I have no idea how much of those you would need.
I got my seals simmering. This softens up the rubber seal so it form fits the jars. I also put the jars in my dishwasher to sterilize them.
Then I got my canning pot out and brought the water to a boil. This takes awhile as the pot is big.
I was thrilled when I found this pot and rack inside at a thrift store. I don't think it was ever used before. It sure makes canning a lot easier.
If you don't have one of these you can use a large pot and put a rack on the bottom or even a towel. You just don't want your jars to sit right on the pot as they may crack. The pot has to be big enough to cover the jars with at least an inch or two of water.
After I got everything ready it was time to make the jam. I poured the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and a teaspoon of butter into a large pot. The butter helps keep the jam from foaming up to much.
Be sure to keep stirring as you don't want the sugar to burn on the bottom of the pan.
The blueberries make such a pretty color. Here you can see the pretty color and also that even though I mashed the berries, you can still see that you can tell it's blueberries in there.
Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Then add the Certo, bring it back to a full boil for only one minute. Don't over or under cook it.
As soon as the minute is up, turn off the heat and remove the pot from the stove.
Poor the hot mixture into your clean, hot jars. If you use a funnel it makes it so much easier. You can just put the jam directly into the jar but it's really hot and if you are holding the jar you could really get burned.
My tip on using a funnel is to not just dump the jam into the funnel. This will cause the jam to plop down into the jar and it will splash up, getting on you and everything else. Yes, I know this from first hand experience.
Poor the jam onto the side of the funnel and let it run down the side into the jar. You will be much safer this way.
Use a wet cloth and wipe the rim of the jar. You don't want anything on there because if there is then the seal will not work. If this should happen, it's OK. You can still eat your jam. You will just have to put it in the refrigerator and eat it within a few weeks.
If you put it on the shelf it will spoil as the vacuum seal will not be there.
Put the jars with the lids on them into the canner and lower the rack into the boiling water. Cover the pot with the lid and boil for 10 minutes.
Don't forget to make sure the water covers your jars at least an inch or two once the rack is lowered.
Once the time is up, lift up the rack and remove the jars. You will soon hear that pop, pop, pop sound that comes when the jars form the vacuum and the lids are sealed tightly.
Place the jars in a place they won't get disturbed for 24 hours. That's it! You now have jam. How easy was that!
I will put some cute labels on these and I plan on giving them out for Christmas gifts this year.
There is nothing as good as yummy homemade jam.
Here is my last tip, if you take some jam out and heat it up so it becomes warm and runny you can pour this on ice cream for the best dessert you have had in a long time.