I had a bumper crop of blueberries on my two bushes this year in my yard. I watched all spring as the blueberries grew. However, after sharing with the birds and going out of town at the height of the season, there was only about a quart of blueberries left for picking. What could I make with the small batch of blueberries? I’ve never made blueberry jam; but it seemed like a way to savor the wonderful flavor of the blueberries all year. Here I go.
Growing Blueberries in Louisiana
Blueberries are easy to grow in Louisiana. There are several varieties that grow in this climate and they can get to be 8 feet tall. The bushes don’t have many pests and don’t require alot of care. Find a sunny spot for the bushes in a raised or well-drained area. They like acidic soil, so I added pine leaves for mulch. I watered the bushes the first year; but really blueberries don’t like to be over-watered. Now I just leave them alone and keep the weed eater away. The berries grow in clumps and ripen at various times, so you almost have to pick them daily. After picking, the berries will keep for a week or more and will ripen slightly after picking. These blueberries aren’t quite ripe yet.Making Jam
Making jam is actually simple. Preserving the jam by canning the jars is the time consuming part (such as getting the water to boil in a large canner). The process is similar to other things I’ve canned and I described all the unique utensils that make it easier and the steps in other blog posts such as canning pickled okra. Although it’s a small batch; I still recommend using a legitimate canner with a bottom rack for this process. You use a water bath for canning jam — so don’t get tempted to use an instant pot pressure cooker.
Jam is basically fruit and sugar, plus pectin to thicken the jam and a little lemon juice to increase acidity. How does jam is differ from jelly? Jelly is the juice of the fruit and jam contains pieces of the fruit. I used three cups of blueberries in my small batch which yielded five 8-oz jars. For this small amount, you could opt to store the jam in the refrigerator and use the jars up a month or two. Just skip water processing the jam in a canner for long term storage. Either way, everything should be kept sterilized and clean.
Add in the remaining cup of berries, the lemon juice, a cup of water and a package of SUR JELL pectin mixed in a 1/4 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil. Then add 2 cups of sugar and boil exactly one minute.
Ladle the jam into sterilized and hot jars made specifically for canning. I like the wide tops on these decorative jars. Wipe the rims off with a damp rag or paper towel and add a new seal and band.
Optionally, place in a water bath canner on a wire rack in the bottom of the canner — with water to cover the tops by an inch, bring to a boil and boil 10 minutes. Remove from the canner, let cool on the counter. The seals may “pop” as the jam cools to room temperature over the next 24 hours. (Store any jars that don’t seal properly in the refrigerator.) And that’s canning! The aromatic flavor and taste of blueberries is preserved for you to enjoy.
Keeping Things Sterile and and Hot
Home canning does take a bit of time, practice and organization. Since the food that is canned might last up to a year at room temperature, everything should be sterilized before starting. I wash the jars in the dishwasher, then place them the canner, bringing the water to boiling and leaving them until ready to fill. Otherwise adding hot jam to a cold jar risks the chance of breaking the jar. What mess and a lost batch of jam. I also use new the bands and seals every time and sterilize these tops for five minutes in boiling water in a small pot.
How will I use the jam? Perhaps on biscuits, crackers, cream cheese. The flavor of homemade blueberry jam just can’t compare to what is commercially found in grocery stores. It is a treat — savor the flavor of the fresh blueberry jam.
A Small Batch of Blueberry Jam
- 3 cups fresh blueberries
- 2 Tbsp freshly lemon juice
- 1 cup water
- 2-1/4 cup sugar, divided
- 1 package commercial SUR JELL pectin
Method and Steps:
- Wash and sort blueberries, removing stems and any old, hard blueberries.
- Place 2 cups blueberries in large saucepan. Using a potato masher, mash the blueberries.
- Add remaining blueberries to sauce pan along with lemon juice and water. Stir.
- Combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1 package commercial SUR JELL pectin. Add to blueberries in saucepan.
- Bring to rolling boil (one that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.
- Add remaining 2 cups sugar, and return to rolling boil, stirring constantly. Then cook exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat skim off any foam with metal spoon. Ladle into 5 (8 oz) hot, sterile canning jars to 1/2 inch of top.
- Wipe rims off with damp rag or paper towel.
- Add sterile tops and bands. (Boil the tops and bands in a small pot of water for 5 minutes)
- Place in canner with elevated rack. Fill water to at least 1 to 2″ above tops of jars.
- Cover and bring to a bubbling boil. (Because of rack in bottom of canner, water will not have a “rolling” boil.) Process 10 minutes.
- Carefully remove from canner and set upright on towel on counter. Cool for 24 hours. Check seal after jars are cool. Lid should not spring back. Refrigerate any jars that are not properly sealed.