Blueberry jam

I realized today that I haven’t ever shared a straight-up blueberry jam recipe. I posted this blueberry plum jam ages ago, but nothing yet about the simple blueberry, citrus and sugar concoction I’ve made every year since.

We go Texas blueberry picking at our friend Bill and his family’s farm and ranch (Chickamaw Farm between Bastrop & Elgin) and this year we almost missed it again—last year I was on tour for the kitchen book throughout our berry season in May and June. The berries are divine and have a slightly tart edge, which makes for a great plain blueberry jam.

Blueberry Jam

yields about 6 half pints

1. Combine the following in a glass or ceramic bowl:

2-1/2 lbs blueberries

3 cups sugar

half a medium orange juiced (about 1/4 cup)

1 lemon juiced (about 1/4 cup), zest reserved in an airtight container and saved in the refrigerator

Lightly mash the mixture to encourage a small handful of the berries to release their juices. I use my trusty potato masher. Allow mixture to macerate at room temp for up to 8 hours or in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

2. The next day, place rack and 6-half pint (8oz) jars, or a combo of 4 and 8oz jars, into your canner pot. Fill with enough water to just submerge the rims of your jars. Cover pot and start the canner before you begin cooking your macerated mix. When canner reaches a boil you can just turn it off, keeping the lid on and jars in the hot water until you need them.

3. Place macerated mixture into a large non-reactive pot (ideally 2-3 times the size of the mixture as the blueberries can foam up quite a bit). Heat on low until sugar granules appear melted, stirring occasionally. Increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil, watching pot closely so it does not foam over the top. Decrease heat a bit if needed. When foaming subsides, mash or use a hand-held blender to crush/blend berries. The stick blender is a great tool to create a smooth spreadable puree, or any point on the spectrum between chunky and smooth jam.

You’ll know your jam is done when the bubbles have spaced out, and they are larger and become darker in appearance. Depending on your pot and stove, this will take anywhere from 12-20 minutes. The gel point is 221 degrees F, remove the pot from heat and use a thermometer or the frozen spoon test to determine whether or not your jam has set.

My first test indicated my jam had not quite set, so I put the pot back on the heat

4. Once your jam has reached a gel, remove pot from heat. Add reserved lemon zest and stir gently. Let jam thicken for 5 minutes while you pull your jars out of the canner pot.

Use a glass measuring cup to scoop some water out of the canner pot and place lids in the measuring cup to warm up the rubber sealing compound. Ladle mixture into hot jars leaving 1/2”-inch ‘headspace’, the distance between the fruit and top of the rim. Wipe rims with dampened, clean cloth or paper towel. Seal with two-piece lids to finger tightness, which is the tension at which just your fingers (not your whole hand or strong arms) meet resistance when screwing the band on the jar.

5. Process for 10 min in boiling waterbath.

During the heat of summer, I like to (carefully!) take the canner pot out to the back porch to remove the jars inside. No need to steam up the kitchen even more!