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Monday, September 19, 2011

We Be Jammin' - Making and Canning Your Own Blueberry Jam

I tried raspberry freezer jam once a year or two ago... it was pretty good, as I remember it from my childhood but for us it's not quite as good as a regular jam. July and August are special in Michigan - it's blueberry season! Blueberry buckle, blueberry muffins, blueberry pies and tarts are all popular around our house. We also buy this Bonne Maman Wild Blueberry Preserves frequently, it is our absolute favorite jam. So it's no surprise we chose blueberry jam to be my first "real" jam and canning experience!

Bonne Maman jam is usually $3.99 for 13oz cute little jar. If you already have jars for jam, this recipe is about half the cost. Just a fun fact. I did it for the fun of it and not to save a few bucks (or a few cents as it works out). Blueberries can be expensive, I bought 10 lbs for $24 from the local blueberry farm. It made two batches of this recipe plus left me one gallon ziploc full to put in the freezer for future pancakes, desserts and baby food. When it's all said and done, I saved about half the cost. If you factor in buying jars which are around $10 a flat, you save about 0.05 an oz. Something like that.... so maybe not as cost effective as you might think! And smuckers is a lot cheaper, I'm talking expensive jams in comparison here.

I have never tried canning anything before and I finally had to make time since my parents had picked up the blueberries for me from their favorite blueberry farm stand. I bought jars a long time ago for a party to use them as glasses for sangria, plus The Husband had gotten me a "canning kit" for Christmas a year or two ago. So I was ready to rumble!!



How To Make & Can Your Own Blueberry Jam
As summarized from what I found here, which has more detail and great information


Ingredients
10 cups of blueberries
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
7 cups of sugar
1/2 cup water
1 package pectin (you can use slightly more than 1 box if you like thicker jam)

Canning equipment
jars - this recipe makes about 6 pints (plus some to put in the fridge for immediate enjoyment)
lids - enough for the number of jars you're filling
rings - to screw the lids on
a large canning pot - to boil the jars in
jar grabber - to lift the hot jars out of the boiling water
lid magnet - the lids have to be warmed in hot water so this lid magnet will grab one lid at a time out of the hot water
jar funnel - very helpful for filling the jars

The funnel, magnet, and grabber will be included in any canning kit. The jars and lids and rings are sold in most grocery stores. Other items may also come in your kit but the ones above are what I used and was thankful that I had.

1. Preparations:
A. Run the jars and rings through your dish washer and sanitize setting, time it so that hopefully they will still be hot right when you want to ladel the hot jam into the jars, if possible.
B. Also get a giant canning pot ready with water coming up to boil. I used my beer brewing pot. This takes a long time.
C. Third, get a small little sauce pan with water and boil the jar lids for 5-10 minutes and keep them warm (follow the directions on your jars or pectin box also). This softens the gum sealant on the lids.

2. I started by washing and picking through the blueberries so that I had 10 cups. I'd measure one cup, put it in a bowl and mash it with a masher, and then add it to the rest of the mashed blueberries




3. Mix the pectin with 1/4 c of the sugar

4. Mix the blueberries, lemon juice, and pectin mixture and cook to a full boil (the kind that cannot be stirred away). This takes time

5. Add the rest of the sugar, bring it back to a boil, and boil it hard for 1 minute

6. You can add a little more pectin if you want your jam thicker (test it using the spoon method and letting it cool as noted in the linked website above)

7. Fill the jars (make sure the jars are hot.. if they aren't hot from the dishwasher, I dipped them in the canning boiling water as long as I could stand it (10-15 seconds) to heat the glass). Use a ladle and the funnel

8. Wipe the mouths of the jars clean and seal the jars by placing a lid (use the lid lifter magnet) on the top and screwing on a ring

9. Use the jar tongs to place the jars in the boiling water bath in the canning pot and keep them there for 5-10 minutes

10. Take the jars out (use the tons again) and let them rest at room temperature. The lids should pop down over the next 24 hours. If they don't seal properly (they make a popping noise when you push on the lid), you should start by eating that jam first or you could try boiling it again... I tried that and it did seem to work for some of the jars.

I believe this jam lasts up to 12 months but with a blueberry jam eating machine around like The Husband, they might not last that long. I have made this recipe twice, the second time I did two back-to-back batches so I actually have 18 pints of blueberry jam on my hands right now. I have 24 4oz jars and 12 pints and I plan to give some away. The Husband was not going to let me give any away without making this kind of quantity

I'm really happy to have my first canning experience under my belt! I hope to find a great salsa recipe some day and try canning that, or maybe some apple butter in the fall using Michigan apples. I also hope to get the late-summer raspberries from the farmer's market and make some raspberry jam but we're already running out of time! I also need some more jars though we found some in the basement from the previous home owner. This recipe tastes great and just as good as the high-end blueberry jams I typically buy. I hope you enjoy. The website procedure that I followed here has a lot more information and was very helpful with photos and all so I recommend checking it out.


Banana Crumb Muffins


This is a tasty little recipe. I wanted to make something special for The Husband for breakfast as well as use up some super ripe bananas. Of course, this was extra super duper nice of me because I was specifically cutting out sweets from my diet for several weeks... so I threw the rest in the freezer. This was a good experiment though and a few weeks later I pulled a few out, popped them in the microwave for a few seconds, and tried one and it was still quite moist and very tasty. I definitely would make this recipe again. This would also be a good make-ahead recipe for a breakfast or brunch since they would keep for a few days and they freeze well also. I hope you enjoy!

Banana Crumb Muffins
As seen here on AllRecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.