Blueberry Jam – Yes Ma’am!

blueberry jam, cooking jam
blueberry jam, cooking jam
Bubbling blueberries thinking about jamming

Recipes for Blueberry Jam With Kefir Lime Leaf, Orange, Almond, or Bacon and Onion Blueberry Sauce

Get all flavor-funky with this summer canning classic—or don’t.

For this jam and any other in your repertoire, only use spectacular fruit—fruit good enough to eat out of hand. Crummy fruit = crummy jam. (Sub-par fruit can more easily be masked in a smoothie or baked goods like cobbler or quick breads.)

Adding a little whiff of flavor to the blueberries can be a severely wonderful thing, but be sure to go easy: a heavy hand will make the fresh blueberry flavor disappear.

And lastly: yes, Virginia, baconizing food got stale ages ago. This is a fact. However, I am needling for a loophole here, as it’s only the bacon fat that we’re interested in for the savory bacon and onion blueberry sauce. Your eyes will stop rolling the minute you taste it on a pork chop.

Ingredients: 

  • 3 lbs. fresh, delicious blueberries (if you’re buying the 11oz. plastic clamshells from the grocery story, it’s about 4 ½ of those)
  • About 1/3 cup water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • A tiny pat of butter (let’s call it ½ tsp.)
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice (from about ½ of a small lemon)

 Optional – any one of the following:

  • 4 leaves of fresh sorrel, lightly crushed
  • 4 fresh kefir lime leaves, lightly crushed
  • 4 short sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp. Chambord or Kirsch or Amaretto or Frangelica
  • ½ tsp. almond, anise, or vanilla extract
  • 4 2-inch long pieces of orange zest (peeled with a vegetable peeler) and 4 tsp. of fresh orange juice
  • 6 slices of bacon and 2 cups minced onion

If you’re canning this, prepare your jars. Wash, sort, and de-stem your lovely berries. Combine them with the water and salt in a very deep, heavy pot (like a Le Creuset or a stock pot). Cover and set over medium-high heat. Stir it frequently, every two minutes or so, keeping it covered in-between. You want the fruit to break down and release a lot of liquid. This usually takes about 10 minutes. Remember; keep it covered.

Once we have juice it’s time to add the sugar. How much? We will calculate this based on half the weight of your fruit. For 3 lbs. of berries, you’d want about 1 ½ lbs of sugar. (You can adjust this a little based on the sweetness of your fruit). One pound of sugar is about 2 cups by volume. So, 1 1/2 lbs. of sugar is about 3 cups. Math is nifty! Go ahead and stir in the sugar, remove the cover, and turn the heat to high. Add the butter. Why? Not just because butter rocks. A wee bit of fat while cooking jam helps reduce the tremendous amounts of foam that can form when cooking fruit.

blueberry jam
Summer blueberry jam

Let the jam bubble away; stirring it often with a pot scraper (better than a wooden spoon!) to prevent scorching on the bottom. Otherwise, let it boil like crazy; if it’s splattering, making a terrible mess, and scalding your flesh, you’re on the right track (Um, this is a good time for an apron. But not that really cute one. A really dirty one that you won’t mind seeing some super stainy blueberry splatter.).

When the jam feels very viscous and parts like the Red Sea to expose the bottom of the pot when you scrape the bottom, it’s ready. This is usually about 20 minutes of cooking time over high heat. If you’re using a thermometer, go for 220 degrees F.

Turn off the heat, and add the lemon juice. Your warm jam is now ready to eat.

At this point, you can also flavor your jam in a subtle way. To flavor the entire batch with a hint of boozy fruits or nuts, add the liquer or the extracts. To add a nice orange flavor, stir in the orange juice and the zest. If you’re going herbaceous, stir in the thyme, sorrel, or kefir lime leaf. (When ladeling the jam into jars, be sure to include one piece of zest or one bit of the herb in each jar.) If you’re going the bacon way: fry the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, reserving its fat in the pan. (EAT your bacon, but not all at once or you will regret it. Nom.) Add the onion to the fat in the pan and saute it until it starts to brown. Turn off the heat, then add the jam to the skillet and combine fully.

Once the flavors have been added, your jam is ready to can. Or, simply let it cool and transfer to a clean, odor-free container for refrigerator storage. Keep in mind that you don’t have to add flavoring to the entire batch of jam. Any of the flavoring suggestions above can be cut in half or in quarters if you only want to experiment with flavoring some of your jam. Per half pint (one cup), that means one piece of the herb, ½ teaspoon booze, 1/8 tsp. extract, 1 piece of orange zest and 1 tsp. orange juice, or 1 ½ pieces of bacon and ½ cup minced onion.

blueberry jam, jam on bread
Blueberry jam on crusty white bread equals love.

Yield: About 4 half-pints of jam

Time: About 1 1/2 hours

Note: Would you rather watch me make this jam live on your monitor? Details on the video class I’m making with Creativebug coming soon!

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