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Jam On! – Recipes From A New Cookbook

I love jam making, there is something simple and wonderful about it. My Mom taught me when I was little how to do it – even back in the dark days when one would seal the jam with a layer of paraffin (hot water baths? Nope!). It is hard to mess jam up, the worst is you have pancake syrup for the winter…..I love seeing new ideas I hadn’t thought about before.

While reading my copy of Jam On: The Craft of Canning Fruit, I fell for the Wild Blueberry Jam – my love of Blueberries is well-known (not that the 30+ plants in my backyard say anything about that!). Juniper and Star Anise? Dark Rum? Hmmmm…I had never thought about that before! I made two batches – first the original recipe and then one of alternates she lists at the end of the Jam & Jelly chapter (each type of jam has 4 or 5 variations you can try). I tried the alternate of cinnamon and maple syrup, leaving the rum out.

The book will leave you wanting to pull out your gear and get canning, there are so many ideas – you will be inspired.

Canning can be intimidating, but remember – jam isn’t. All you need is a simple kit such as Ball Home Canning Discovery Kit (which I find works great for tiny 4 ounce jars) with a stockpot you have or a Granite Ware 11-1/2 Quart Covered Preserving Canner with Rack, some tools like a Norpro 6 Piece Canning Set, and some small mason jars like Ball Quilted Jelly Canning Jar 4 Oz., Case of 12 or Ball Deluxe Quilted Jelly Canning Jar 8 Oz., Case of 12. And yes, most local grocery stores, hardware or Wall-e-worlds carry all this. And honestly? You don’t have to can it if you don’t want to. You can always stash it in the fridge and use it up within a couple of weeks. Canning though means you can be enjoying it a year later!

The pectin this recipe (and in much of the book) that is called for is Pomonas Universal Pectin.

It can be found in well stocked grocery stores with the pectin/sugar or at natural food stores (such as Whole Foods), if you use a lot of it buy it via Amazon (see above link) or via Pomonas’s website. Let me blather here – all the pectin you see in stores – the “big 3” players are owned by Kraft. Sure-Jell, MCP and Pecto. All contain hidden sugar. Pomonas doesn’t. Give a small company some love and get a superior product! Pomonas is different in use but once you get used to it (first use!) you will be hooked. You can make no-sugar added, Stevia, honey, lower sugar, etc. And one box makes 3 to 4 batches jam.

Wild Blueberry Jam

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds wild blueberries (domestic ones also work)
  • 5 Juniper Berries, fresh or dried
  • 4 Star Anise
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounces dark rum

For The Gelling:

  • 3 tsp calcium water (see notes below)
  • 2 tsp pectin

Also:

Directions:

Jars & Lids –

Wash and rinse the jars; put them intro a big stockpot; cover the jars with water and bring to a boil; turn off the heat. Let stand in hot water until you are ready to fill.

Let the rings and bands stand in hot water until you are ready to screw them on the jars. (Do not boil these, use new lids each time, bands can be reused.)

Set aside a couple clean metal spoons in your freezer for testing the consistency and gel of your jam later.

For the blueberries –

Rinse the berries and remove their stems. Tie the juniper berries and star anise in a small jelly bag. Measure the berries into a large glass bowl and add 1 cup sugar, the lemon juice and jelly bag. Stir well. Let macerate for a few hours or overnight, until the sugar and lemon juice are allowed to release the juice of the berries. Stir every once in a while to dissolve the sugar.

Once the juice is released, place the fruit and spices in their cheesecloth into a 6 to 8 quart nonreactive pot.  To make the calcium water, mix ½ tsp calcium with ½ cup water. Set aside, you will only need 3 tsp of it, the rest can be refrigerated for later use. Add the calcium water, stir well.

For the sugar & Pectin –

Measure the remaining 2 cups sugar into a separate bowl and thoroughly mix the proper amount of pectin into the sugar – using a fork helps to disperse the pectin into the sugar. Set the sugar mixture aside.

To Cook –

Bring the berries to a boil over medium-high heat. If it starts to foam, skim the foam off the top and discard the foam. Remove the jelly bag and add the rum.

Pour the pectin-sugar mixture into the boiling jam slowly and carefully, stirring as you add. Stir vigorously 2 minutes to dissolve the pectin.

Return the fruit to a boil and remove from the heat. Skim off any and all foam that has formed on the top.

Pectin gels completely when thoroughly cool, so don’t worry if your jam looks loose while still hot. To test, place a teaspoon of the hot jam on a frozen spoon; let it cool to room temperature (about 30 seconds) on the spoon. If it thickens up to the consistency desired, the jam is ready. If not, mix in a little more pectin (½ tsp into ¼ cup sugar) and bring it to a boil again for 1 minute.

To preserve –

Empty the water out of your jars, fill to ¼” of the top. Wipe the rims with a new damp paper towel, removing any spilled jam, especially on the rim.

Place a lid on top and tighten a band around each jar, place them into a pot of boiling water, using a canning rack to lower in. Make sure all jars are upright and that jars are fully submerged, with at least 2″ of water above..

Process for 6 minutes in a boiling water bath (Here I deviated, I did 10 minutes, following Pomonas’s directions). Take out carefully using a jar lifter or tongs. Have a clean kitchen towel on the counter, place each jar on it and let cool for at least 6 hours, overnight is better. Listen for the “popping sound” and keep track of how many times you hear it. Check after cooling that the lid is firm when pressed on, if it pops up and down, it isn’t sealed. If that happens, refrigerate that jar and use within a couple of weeks.

Once cooled, store the jars in a pantry for up to 12 months. Once opened, store in the refrigerator and use up within 3 weeks.

Makes 4 8-ounce jars, 8 4-ounce jars or 2 Pint jars. (Well, that was according to the recipe – I got 13 4-ounce jars!)

Cinnamon & Maple Wild Blueberry Jam

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds wild blueberries (domestic ones also work)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4 ounces real maple syrup

For The Gelling:

  • 3 tsp calcium water (see notes below)
  • 2 tsp pectin

Directions:

Jars & Lids –

Wash and rinse the jars; put them intro a big stockpot; cover the jars with water and bring to a boil; turn off the heat. Let stand in hot water until you are ready to fill.

Let the rings and bands stand in hot water until you are ready to screw them on the jars. (Do not boil these, use new lids each time, bands can be reused.)

Set aside a couple clean metal spoons in your freezer for testing the consistency and gel of your jam later.

For the blueberries –

Rinse the berries and remove their stems. Measure the fruit into a large glass bowl and add 1 cup sugar, the lemon juice and cinnamon. Stir well. Let macerate for a few hours or overnight, until the sugar and lemon juice are allowed to release the juice of the berries. Stir every once in a while to dissolve the sugar.

Once the juice is released, place the berries into a 6 to 8 quart nonreactive pot.  To make the calcium water, mix ½ tsp calcium with ½ cup water. Set aside, you will only need 3 tsp of it, the rest can be refrigerated for later use. Add the calcium water, stir well.

For the sugar & Pectin –

Measure the remaining 2 cups sugar into a separate bowl and thoroughly mix the proper amount of pectin into the sugar – using a fork helps to disperse the pectin into the sugar. Set the sugar mixture aside.

To Cook –

Bring the berries to a boil over medium-high heat. If it starts to foam, skim the foam off the top and discard the foam. Add the maple syrup.

Pour the pectin-sugar mixture into the boiling jam slowly and carefully, stirring as you add. Stir vigorously 2 minutes to dissolve the pectin.

Return the fruit to a boil and remove from the heat. Skim off any and all foam that has formed on the top.

Pectin gels completely when thoroughly cool, so don’t worry if your jam looks loose while still hot. To test, place a teaspoon of the hot jam on a frozen spoon; let it cool to room temperature (about 30 seconds) on the spoon. If it thickens up to the consistency desired, the the jam is ready. If not, mix in a little more pectin (½ tsp into ¼ cup sugar) and bring it to a boil again for 1 minute.

To preserve –

Empty the water out of your jars, fill to ¼” of the top. Wipe the rims with a new damp paper towel, removing any spilled jam, especially on the rim.

Place a lid on top and tighten a band around each jar, place them into a pot of boiling water, using a canning rack to lower in. Make sure all jars are upright and that jars are fully submerged, with at least 2″ of water above..

Process for 6 minutes in a boiling water bath (Here I deviated and followed Pomonas’s directions and did 10 minutes). Take out carefully using a jar lifter or tongs. Have a clean kitchen towel on the counter, place each jar on it and let cool for at least 6 hours, overnight is better. Listen for the “popping sound” and keep track of how many times you hear it. Check after cooling that the lid is firm when pressed on, if it pops up and down, it isn’t sealed. If that happens, refrigerate that jar and use within a couple of weeks.

Once cooled, store the jars in a pantry for up to 12 months. Once opened, store in the refrigerator and use up within 3 weeks.

Makes 4 8-ounce jars, 8 4-ounce jars or 2 Pint jars. (Well, that was according to the recipe – I got 13 4-ounce jars!)

~Sarah

PS: Lots more canning recipes coming! It has been crazy in my kitchen this week.

FTC Disclaimer: We received an advance copy for review.

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Comments

  1. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM,..;these 2 types of jam look so tasty. But normally, you don’t need to add pectine to your cooked fruits unles they don’t conatin any pectine?

    • It depends on the fruit or berry, some are naturally higher – but usually you need sugar to thicken it. This allows less sugar (or even none).

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