Sorry that the blog posts have been few and far between lately. We've been extremely busy the past two weeks, and I've been falling into bed exhausted at night. The blueberries have definitely been keeping me busy.
Here is a picture of the lovely orchard where we go picking. Doesn't it just look so idyllic?
The bushes at the top are always more full with ripe berries because its quite a hike to get up there and not as many people make the venture.
Can you believe all these ripe delicious berries?! They practically fall off the branches into the buckets.
The frosted blue ones taste the best! It takes me about an hour to pick a 5 quart bucket, which costs $8! That makes it totally worth my time.
So far, we've gone to the orchard twice and have picked more than 30 quarts. I'm sure you're asking yourself what someone does with that many berries … because I've been asking myself the same question lately! I've used 9 quarts for berries, frozen about 18 quarts, and we've eaten about 3. We've been making blueberry jam, blueberry waffles, blueberry muffins … and eating them by the fist full!
This is what my kitchen looks like when I tried to make jam for the first time. It was a total disaster. You can't see the countless berries that I spilled on the floor then accidently stepped on. So, be prepared to make a little mess if you're going to attempt the jam.
Being my first time making jam and all, I had to figure out what was going to work best. I started out trying to use my food mill to crush the berries – turns out the berries were too big to fit well and just spun round and round the mill and made a really big mess.
Then I crushed them with my pastry blender. That was relatively effective, but my arm got pretty sore, and it took a long time.
Then I had the genius idea to whip out my mini food processor. I had to do quite a few batches, but it was still much faster and much less messy than the other methods.
This is the pectin I used to set the jam. It has instructions inside the box for making freezer jam and jelly as well as cooked jam and jelly. Thats how I learned, and my recipe below is an adaptation from Sure Jell.
So I mixed the berries, sure jell, lemon juice and spices together and brought it to a rolling boil.
Then I mixed in the sugar and brought it to another rolling boil. I love how the color of the blueberry skin comes out when it cooks – its so beautiful and deep!
After you've cooked it, following the directions completely, lower it into your boiling water for the suggested time.
And voila – blueberry spice jam! Only 1 of my jars didn't seal, and I was pleased with that for my first attempt. I've since made another 8 pints, and they all sealed!
The jam is fabulous on toast – in fact I ate 4 pieces of toast with blueberry spice jam for lunch yesterday!
Blueberry Spice Jam
*adapted from Sure
4 cups crushed blueberries
4 cups sugar
1 box pectin
juice from 1 ½ lemons (approx 3 tablespoons)
3 teaspoons cinnamon
¾ teaspoon nutmeg
Bring boiling water canner, half-full with
water, to simmer.
Wash jars and screw bands in hot, soapy water;
rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the
heat. Let stand in how water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.
Crush berries, one cup at a time. If using food
processor, pulse to chop, do not puree. Jam should have bits of fruit.
Measure exact amount of blueberries into 6-8
quart saucepot. Stir in lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pectin.
Measure exact amount of sugar into separate
Bring mixture to full rolling boil on high heat,
stirring constantly (boil doesn’t stop when stirred).
Stir in sugar quickly. Return to full rolling
boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim
off any foam.
Ladle quickly into prepared jars, filling to
within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads and cover with two piece
lids. Screw bands tightly, and place jars on elevated rack in canner. Water
must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches; addd boiling water if needed. Cover and bring
water to gentle boil. Process jam 10 minutes* Remove jars and place upright on
a towl to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of
lid with finger. If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is
Let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Store
unopened jams in cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year. Refrigerate opened
jams up to 3 weeks.
*Adjust processing time according to altitude
1,001-3,000 feet – additional 5 minutes
3,001-6,000 feet – additional 10 minutes
6,001-8,000 feet – additional 15 minutes
8,001-10,000 feet – additional 20 minutes
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