When life gives you blueberries, make blueberry jam.
The blueberry bushes at my grandparents' house are over thirty years old and produce so many berries. When my grandmother told me that they had about three gallons of leftover berries I was amazed. Her blueberry jam has always been a favorite of mine and I was thrilled when she agreed to teach me how to make it. As I mentioned in this post, there are a lot of good reasons on why to preserve food out of your garden or from a local farmers market.
Jams and jellies are a good place to start for beginners in canning. They don't have to go into a pressure cooker/canner and are done in a water bath.
We picked a huge bowl of blueberries, checked them for spots, removed the stems and washed them.
I measured out how many blueberries we needed using the Ball jam jars as measuring cups. I then pulsed the blueberries in a food processor while my grandmother prepared all of the sanitized Ball jars, lids, and rings in hot water. As well as preparing the water bath in the canner.
She kept reminding me to always remember hot, hot, and hot! All of the jars are in boiling hot water, the lids are in the hot water and the canner is hot. Be sure to not burn yourself.
Into a big pot went the chopped blueberries, a 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of butter to reduce the amount of foaming, and the packet of Sure-Jell. Then we brought it to a full rolling boil, (one that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred).
Added the sugar and then let it return to a full rolling boil. Stirred for one minute and try to keep the foam down. This minute seems to last forever.
Warning: You will get an arm workout while stirring the jam and with everything being hot, hot and hot you will get sweaty. I mean, you will glisten.
After stirring vigorously and keeping the foam down, we removed from heat and went in this order for filling the jars:
- Use tongs to grab a jar out of the hot water, empty water and place upright on a towel.
- Place funnel in the jar.
- Use the teacup to scoop out enough jam and leave enough headspace.
- Remove funnel and place in teacup.
- Wipe jar rims and threads with wet towel.
- Use tongs to grab a lid and ring and hand tighten.
- Use jar lifter to place into the water bath.
- Repeat until filling up the canner.
This process goes by very quickly and none of it was physically hard to do.
When it was my turn to do a batch I was halfway through and picked up a jar with my grandmother's jar lifter that I don't even think that they make anymore. I lost grip and dropped the full jar into the pot of jam. The hot jam went everywhere; but we quickly saved it, wiped it off and placed it into the water bath. Thankfully nothing broke. I have to admit that I was a little frazzled but then my grandmother told me about her trials and errors, reminded me that it was okay and that I was doing a good job. I took a deep breath, went in for another jar and repeated until finishing my batch.
Follow the directions for how long to cook the jam in a water bath, it was 10 minutes for the cooked blueberry jam.
After cooking, use jar lifter and a towel under the jar to stable yourself and place on a toweled surface to cool.
Patiently wait for the lids to pop for sealing. Each time a jar would pop my grandmother would say out loud, "oooh thank you! Thank you!"
Place the leftover jam into a jar and use immediately. We tasted some on a slice of freshly made bread. Mmmmm so good.
We canned two batches which came out to be 13 of the 1/2-pint jam jars.
We also did a batch of blackberry jelly which was essentially the same process except with blackberry juice and no seeds. I personally prefer the jam to the jelly. Which do you prefer?