Thursday, May 14

Blueberry Lemon Jam

Blueberry season is fast approaching! 
Blueberry-picking season depends on the geographical location of your blueberries, but most blueberries are ripe in June and July. Some years, depending on the weather, the season can start in late May or extend until early August.

I purchased my blueberries while on one of our trips to Michigan.  Once home I froze them until I could make blueberry jam and syrup, add to muffins or to mix up a batch of blueberry pancakes.  

Besides Michigan being a beautiful state, it is the leader in highbush blueberry production.  Michigan farms produce approximately 220,000 tons (490,000,000 lbs) of blueberries, accounting for 32% of all the blueberries eaten in the United States.

Picking blueberries and making jam always reminds me of one of my favorite children’s books “Blueberries For Sal” by Robert McCloskey. “

It’s about a little girl and her mother picking blueberries and running into bears.  I did not run into any bears, but the farm where I purchased the blueberries told me they have a hard time keeping bears out of their blueberry fields! 

Don't be afraid to pick or purchase more than you need because blueberries are one of the easiest fruits or berries to freeze. Just wash and then dry the berries thoroughly, place on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze (called flash freezing). Once frozen transfer to a plastic container with a lid or in a freezer bag and store in the freezer. You’ll have fresh blueberries all winter long.  

Blueberry Information:
Botanists estimate that blueberries burst onto the scene more than 13,000 years ago!
Blueberries are native to North America and are a perennial flowering plant.  Blueberries are in the same genus family as cranberries and bilberries. ( I love cranberries!) The blueberry starts out a pale greenish color at first, then turn reddish-purple, and finally dark purple when ripe.

I took this photo of blueberries while in the Smoky Mountains

American Indians enjoyed blueberries by drying them in the sun and adding them whole to soups, stews and meat, used as a medicinal and even crushed them into a powder to use on meat as a preservative.

American Indians called blueberries “star berries” because the blossom end of each berry – the calyx – forms a perfect five-pointed star. Tribal elders recounted how the Great Spirit sent “star berries” to ease the children’s hunger during a famine. And according to legend, American Indians gave blueberries to the pilgrims to help them make it through their first winter.

In terms of U.S. fruit consumption, blueberries rank second behind strawberries in the popularity of berries.

There are three types of blueberries:  Highbush, lowbush and hybrid half-bush.  The most commonly planted blueberry is the highbush.

New studies seem to prove that blueberries can improve memory, have lots of antioxidant nutrients and new studies show they can be frozen without doing damage to their delicate anthocyanin antioxidants.
Blueberries have also showed benefits for eye health and to have anti-cancer benefits.
Blueberries are high in Vitamin C, low in fat, are a good source of dietary fiber and have just 80 calories per cup.

This is a great tasting jam, the color is beautiful and the combination of the blueberry and lemon flavors together is amazing.  (think lemon blueberry cheesecake!)

Blueberry Lemon Jam

What You’ll Need:
5 cups crushed blueberries
5 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest (finely grated lemon rinds)
1/3 Cup lemon juice
2 packages (3 oz) envelopes fruit pectin
7 half pint glass canning jars and lids

How To Make: 
Prepare boiling water bath canner.
Wash and sterilize canning jars.   I place my jars in my canner to sterilize them, and then keep them hot until ready to use.
Place lids in simmering water until ready for use, but do not boil.

Combine berries and sugar in a large sauce or stockpot

Combine blueberries, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice in a large saucepan.
Over medium high heat, stirring constantly, bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.  Stir in pectin.

Stir in Pectin and boil for 1 minute

Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
Remove from heat and skim off foam if necessary. (You can add 1 teaspoon of butter if desired to reduce foam)

Fill jars and leave a 1/2 inch headspace

Ladle hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. 
Wipe rim and apply 2 piece lids onto jar. Screw band on until fingertip-tight.

Process jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
Remove jars from canner and cool.
Makes about 7 (8 oz) half pints.

Hints and Tips:
  • If you wish, follow the original recipe which calls for 4 ½ cups of blueberries and 7 cups of sugar, along with the rest of the ingredients and same directions. But it is extremely sweet. 
  • If you do not have lemons or lemon zest on hand, or want just plain blueberry jam, the lemon can be omitted and will not affect the recipe.  
  • If more lemon flavor is desired, increase lemon juice to ½ cup and lemon zest to 4 teaspoons.   
  • These make great gifts for Christmas, house warming, new neighbors, birthdays or other special occasions.   
  • If you need extra jam, this recipe can be doubled.
  • There are times when jam just does not set up.  Not to worry, it makes wonderful syrup for pancakes!

I am patiently waiting for strawberries to ripen in our area the first week of June.  This year besides making strawberry jam and freezing strawberries I want to attempt strawberry pie filling!


Other Canning Recipes:


Anonymous said...

How long can this be stored? For instance can I give out at Xmas? Where do I store the jars?

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

I believe recommendations are one year for canned items, but I have keep mine for well over a year! I'm still using tomatoes from 2 years ago and they are as fresh as the day I canned them.

Anonymous said...

This blog post could not be written any better for directions. Reading it reminds me of my college roommate! He continually kept talking about blueberry everything! I am going to send this post to him. Pretty sure it'll get his obsession going again!

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Well I guess there are worst things to have an obsession about, haha

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

And I forgot to answer one other question! Store canned items, jars in a cool dark place. Even temps year round that are not too warm or cold and out of light or sunlight is best for long term storage. Hope that helps. I build a room in our basement with shelves for my canned food items.