Add this to the list of things I did not think I’d be doing in 2018: canning jam. From blueberries that we PICKED! A few weeks ago, we took a trip to Beck Brothers Blueberries with my sister and brother in law and picked what felt like a million delicious beautiful little blueberries. My toddler loved it so much! It’s so amazing to see firsthand where produce comes from and for kids to have the fun of picking it themselves.
Despite my daughter accidentally dumping our bucket at one point and our spending a lot of time just eating the blueberries, we still managed to bring home a giant container of them. Jam seemed like the right thing to make. And if you’re making jam, why not try to figure out how to can it, right? After some googling and chatting with my sister in law (who is basically an expert in my eyes because she canned okra one time), I went for it.
I don’t think there has ever been any event in my life that fit the description of “hot mess” more than this. Combine a bunch of boiling pots with my fear of botulism (thanks to all these microbiology classes I took in college and grad school) and it was kind of a perfect storm. However, I am happy to say though that it it worked! And the jar lids sealed! And OMGOMG this jam is sooooo good. I looked at a few basic recipes online and modified my version to include a few additional flavors. Don’t feel like you have to go through the canning process because it will be good in the fridge for about 3 weeks or it can be frozen. If you do decide to can the jam, you will get extra cool points and feel like a superwoman (or man!) from an 1800s homestead. You then can celebrate the “pop” that the can makes when it seals and then run around the house yelling “WE CAN CAN!”. True story.
Some canning tips:
I have zero fancy canning equipment! I used a big stockpot to boil the jars and was able to fit 6 half-pint jars in at the same time. I used metal tongs with silicone tips to remove the jars in and out of the boiling water bath. I used a soup ladle to spoon the jam into jars.
Wash all the jars and lids before you start to make the jam itself. Get them boiling in the water bath at least 10 minutes to sterilize.
Hot jam needs to go into a hot jar, otherwise it might break. Once your jam is cooked and your jars have been sterilized, get the jam into the jar before either cools down.
Be as clean as possible! Wash any instruments (spoons, ladles, funnels) you’re using really well. I happened to have medical gloves lying around and wore those too.
You can leave out the lavender and vanilla from my recipe if you don’t have it, but the lemon juice is critical. It helps the jam to set and reduces the pH, keeping the bacteria out.
The jam is going to look really runny when you take it out of the water bath at the end. That’s ok! It will firm up as it cools down.
Once the jars come out of the “processing” (the 10 minute boiling water bath it will take after filled and canned), a “pop” will occur as the lid seals. If it pops and the lid flattens, you win! If you can still press the button in the center of the lid down, it did not properly seal.
Once the sealed jar is cool enough to touch after it’s been processed, screw the lids on tightly. I somehow thought this would happen by itself (I know, it sounds really obvious now that I am typing it) but you will need to go back at the end and twist them on tightly!
Please put a big scoop of this onto a bowl of vanilla ice cream. Also mix a small spoonful into a martini shaker with gin and add tonic. WHOA!
Blueberry lavender jam
- 7 cups fresh blueberries
- 3 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (about 4 small lemons)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon culinary lavender
- 6 half pint sized canning jars
Add about half of the blueberries to a large pot and gently mash with a potato masher.
Bring burner up to medium and add remaining blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, lavender and vanilla extract. Mixture should reach a medium boil.
Keep a low-medium boil going for about 30 minutes, stirring gently every few minutes. It will look runny at this point and that’s ok!
Once jam has cooked for about 30 minutes, remove from heat and stir again. Jam will be runny still, but should stick to the spoon you’re using to stir.
Skim off the foam that has developed on the jam with a spoon.
If you plan to keep in the refrigatator without canning, you’re done! Add to a jar and let cool at room temperature for about an hour, then refridgerate. It will solidify as it cools. If you’re planning to can the jam, follow the next steps!
While your jam is cooking, place clean, washed jars into a large pot of boiling water, boiling for about 10 minutes. Lids and rings should be washed as well and boiled in a smaller saucepan.
Using tongs, remove jars and place on a clean kitchen towel next to the jam pot.
Using a ladle, add jam to the hot jars, leaving about 1/4’’ clearance at the top of the jar.
Add lids and rings to jar. Don’t tighten them too much because air needs to escape! Twist just enough to meet resistance but not too tight.
Place the sealed jars back into the pot of boiling water with lids up. Water level should be right at level of the lids
Boil for 10 minutes
Remove with tongs and let cool on a towel. You will hear the can make a “pop” noise! If the can does not pop for some reason, refrigerate it and use it within the next several weeks.