Sunday, August 25, 2013

Spiced Blueberry Jam & A Lesson in Jam Setting

I've been making jams and preserves for about 5 years now.  I've made mistakes along the way but have arrived at the point in my jam making where it is pretty much smooth sailing. That is unless I leave out an ingredient like I did today.

I decided to roast tomatoes for freezing, to make a couple of jars of dilly beans for an upcoming cottage vacation, and to make spiced blueberry jam- because of the beautiful berries at the farmer's market yesterday. This jam is very popular with my friends and family- it makes great gifts and gets rave reviews. In my multi-tasking, I forgot to add lemon juice to my berry mixture. And predictably, my jam hasn't set yet. Lemon juice does more than just brighten up the jam, it helps it to gel together.  The lesson learned today: SLOW DOWN.  I shouldn't try to do more than one or two recipes at a time.  I was feeling pressed for time and next thing I knew, I was standing over my filled jars wondering what happened.

Having said all of  that, I'm crossing my fingers that the berries + sugar + pectin + a bit of honey will be enough and over time, it will get thicker. If it doesn't set, there are lots of uses for it- I don't mind a runny jam every now and then. And the flavors in this jam make it taste just fine regardless of its consistency.

5 cups of blueberries
1/2 cup honey
2 & 1/2 cups of sugar
Zest of half a lemon and 1 tbsp bottled lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1 pouch liquid pectin

Mix everything together in a pot, bring to a boil.

Turn heat down to medium, skim off foam. Let it cook for about 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat, add the liquid pectin and stir everything well.  Bring to a boil again for 2 minutes, then reduce and stir for a few minutes. It should start to set up and feel thicker.  Pour into hot sterilized jars, then process in a hot water canning bath for 10 minutes.  It makes about 4-5 half pint sized jars, depending on how much you reduce it.

What do you do when your jam doesn't set right away? Any suggestions you'd like to share? 

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