The Movie Star… the Professor and Mary Ann

6 Jul

From left to right: Blueberry Ginger, Blueberry Basil, and Blueberry Mint Tea Jam

Big, busy weekend for us, as it seems is so often the case, it seems. The wonderpup got a haircut (he’s not exactly looking handsome, but he’s clearly not so absurdly hot under all that hair anymore), hung out with family for food and fireworks on the fourth, and we picked somewhere around 11 pounds of blueberries. 9 of those pounds became jam. So just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale – a tale of a jam-making on Independence Day morning.

It was around this time last year that a blueberry-picking outing resulted in 20 pounds of blueberries and my first purchase of some canning jars. I’ve been all about making as much of that sweet, spreadable stuff that I like to eat with breakfast as I possibly can ever since. The blueberries were actually kind of a treat – relatively fast cooking time, and a really nice, firm gel with no added pectin. A really easy, really satisfying jam-making experience overall, we ended up with 6 pints of jam all sealed up and a little bit extra from each batch in 3 jars to eat over the next week ahead (those went in the fridge, sans processing).  It seems like blueberry foams a little less than some of the other fruit I’ve worked with over the last year, but I still ended up reducing the heat and stirring pretty constantly through the foamiest stage to keep it from going over the top of my slightly-too-shallow pan. Since I sort of relied on a couple of different recipes, but was mostly shooting from the hip on all three of these jams, I’m gonna go ahead a tell you exactly what I did. I imagine if you Google them, you’ll find a handful of similar recipes all over the place. But I’m gonna go ahead and have the audacity to call these mine.

The Movie Star – Blueberry Ginger Jam

New recipe for me, I’m rather fond. Probably the most subtle of the three (but still not very subtle), nice and blueberry-ish, decent kick of ginger in there too though.

  • 3 lbs blueberries, de-stemmed, washed and picked over.
  • 1.5 lbs sugar
  • 3 oz. lemon juice
  • 2-ish inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely diced.

Throw the blueberries in your non-reactive, wide based jam-making pot/pan (as always, I was using our enamel-coated cast-iron dutch oven) with a splash of water, and turn the heat up to high. Start crushing the berries with the back of your spoon, and once they start boiling, stir in the sugar until dissolved, then add the lemon juice and ginger. Keep it boiling until it reaches the set that you’re looking for, then transfer to clean, sterilized half-pint jars (I’ve become fond of putting my jars on a cookie sheet in a 250 degree oven while the jam is cooking to sterilize them), wipe the rims, and pop your jars into a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

The Professor – Blueberry Basil Jam

This was my favorite jam from last year’s blueberry picking session, but I unfortunately only made a small-ish batch because I considered it “experimental”. This year, I went whole hog, and I kicked it up a notch on the basil.

  • 3 lbs blueberries, de-stemmed, washed and picked over.
  • 1.5 lbs sugar
  • 3 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped. (I pushed them down in the cup while I was picking so they were compacted, so there was a fair amount of basil in there; you could do less, but I think it’s worth it to go big on this one.)

Same as above, but hold off on the basil until you’ve reached the set you want, then stir it in right before you put the jam in jars. Jar processing was identical.

Mary Ann – Blueberry Mint Tea Jam

I’d been intending to do a straight blueberry mint, but (A) our mint has been kinda struggling since our first trip to Mississippi this summer, over what turned out to be an extremely hot, dry weekend (we’ve since repotted it, and it’s gotten more water, so I’m pretty sure it’ll come back, since it managed, zombie-like, to come back after that weekend of neglect), and (B) Panda had suggested that I try a black tea/blueberry combo. I still think that’d be worth trying, but I really wanted the mint flavor, so I grabbed a couple of mint tea bags that we had lying around and used those.

  • 3 lbs blueberries, de-stemmed, washed and picked over.
  • 1.5 lbs sugar
  • 3 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 mint tea bags

Pretty much exactly the same as above, I just tied the tea bags to the handle of the pot and let them sit in the berries-cum-syrup-cum-jam to steep throughout the cooking process. Jar-processing is identical.

Overall, three excellent jams. I’m really fond, and though I was a lot more aggressive on the flavorings this time around, two out of two people in our house agree that the overall results were totally worth it.


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