Monday, August 5, 2013

Blueberry Jam

I am about to embark on a culinary adventure. I have about 4 cups of blueberries on the stove cooking down with a teaspoon of lemon juice and about a half cup of sugar and between a quarter and half teaspoon of cinnamon (no cinnamon sticks). I have no pectin. I have no jars for canning. I do, however, have blueberries I'm going to lose if I don't do something soon.

I was hoping to go sugar-free, but apparently sugar is considered something of a preservative. But, the quantities of sugar most recipes were calling for was mind-boggling. As much or more than the amount of berries!! Some recipes called for lemon juice (probably another preservative) and others called for a cinnamon stick (that one said it helps preserve - but it also helps control insulin, so I'm in). I don't have cinnamon sticks and blueberries are dark in color, so ground cinnamon isn't going to be visible. I went with the approximate equivalent. 

Now, I have no idea how this will turn out. It will require tasting, I know. Some of it will go in the fridge and some of it into the freezer. Hopefully, I won't have to add too much more sugar (if the berries are sweet). But, I'm determined to do it and not lose these berries. I also eat plenty of PBJ sandwiches, and I like jam on toast, so this will work out. If it turns out well, I will plan ahead for the next time and have jars and lids on hand so I can make more and keep it longer.

I'm far from a culinary queen. I'm more like the kitchen jester. My mother was the cooking expert with regards to preserving and "putting away". She'd can, she'd freeze and she'd "make do". We had a large chest freezer in the basement dedicated to her garden produce and sales on meats and baked goods. Steel shelves were lined with the products she'd can - in fact, her canning kitchen was in the basement. A little four-burner gas stove from the 30s hooked up to a small propane tank and an old kitchen sink with drainboard hanging on the cinderblock basement wall. It was also her summer kitchen when it was too hot in the upstairs kitchen to cook what she wanted (before we had central air).

That's not me. I'm a hit or miss kind of cook. I can do it, but I tend to be lackadaisical about it. I like slow cookers because I can ignore them. For me, spending hours in a kitchen putting together a meal is shear torture. Yet, I like having home canned foods on hand. I miss that. I remember once I made 12 quarts of stewed tomatoes. I was so proud of those tomatoes. Actually, it was more than that, but I remember the 12 because my neighbor, who was helping me clean house, claimed she threw them out thinking they were trash. Yeah - the entire case of home canned stewed tomatoes. Personally, I think she took them because they were nowhere to be found at the apartment dumpster where she said she threw them. I never had her help me again. It wasn't worth it. (Some lessons are hard learned.) But, the ones I got to use were just fine. And, I even used iodized salt which it says not to do. I'm sure there's a reason, but I did it anyway.

I also made several jars of green tomato relish once. Why? Because my tomatoes refused to ripen! They were big, robust beauties, but they stubbornly refused to blush even when set on the window sill in a paper bag. And, I don't do fried green tomatoes, so I made relish. I don't do that, either, but I was able to give it away. At least I didn't lose those tomatoes. 

Anyway, the blueberries are on the stove on a very low flame cooking down. I need to mash them and stir them and make sure they're gently boiling because that is what brings out the natural pectins. I also need to taste them to see if I need more sugar. 

Wish me luck! So far, they taste pretty good with minimal sugar. I'm hoping.

Photo is mine. Previously published on

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