Here's a confession: I don't really like blueberry jam. I don't really like blueberry pie, either, or blueberry syrup, or blueberry ice cream. I think a fresh blueberry is perfection, and why would I mess with that?
|Blueberry jammy mixture, mid cooking. |
(Yes, those are dilly beans in the background...)
My Grammy has since moved out of her farmhouse, so the berries I used for this recipe are a cultivated, high-bush variety, rather than a wild low-bush. However, they were still delicious, picked in the sunshine with my Mom on a beautiful Vermont afternoon.
Classic Blueberry Jam
9 cups fresh blueberries
6 cups sugar
6 tbsp lemon juice
|Jammy blueberries, almost done|
While jam mixture is cooking, wash half-pint jars in hot, soapy water. Then, sterilize by submerging in a kettle of boiling water for at least ten minutes, along with jar lids and rings. Keep jars hot until filling. When jam has reached the gelling point, fill the jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Place jar lid on top and then screw on ring to what I call "Goldilocks Tight" - tight enough that it feels secure, but not so tight that it takes any significant effort to turn. Do not over-tighten.
When all jars are filled, place in a water bath (off-set from the bottom of the kettle by a canning rack or similar), and turn the burner below on to high heat. When the water has begun to boil, start the timer, and allow the jars to boil for five minutes. When the five minute are up, remove the jars and let them sit, undisturbed, on the counter.
|The delicious finished product, waiting to seal|
*The Freezer Test: place a spoonful of boiling jam on a plate and place it in the freezer for five minutes. If it gels to a satisfactory texture, the jam is done.
The Cost Breakdown
1 13-oz jar(1.125 cups) of Bonne Maman Wild Blueberry Jam (the closest comparison I can think of to homemade jam - let's be clear, this isn't Smuckers we're duplicating): $4.99
Price per cup: $4.44
3 pounds fresh blueberries from a Pick-Your-Own Farm: $6.00
6 cups sugar: $5.49 per 10-pound bag, or approximately 0.55 per pound, so $1.65
6 tbsp lemon juice: 2 lemons at $0.59 each, so $1.18
Total for 5 pints of jam: $8.83
Price per cup: $0.88
Is it worth it? Yes. For me, at least. Financially, it works out to about one-fifth of the price you'd pay in a grocery store. Taste- and quality-wise, I don't love blueberry jam to begin with, but this recipe gets great reviews. And, finally, from a nostalgic, familial perspective, homemade blueberry jam will always be a win.