Thursday, May 31, 2012
Minted Blueberry Jam
I love blueberries. It's hard to not just eat them. They are kinda like the chips of the fruit world - you can't eat just one. Organic blueberries can be very pricey. I bought one pound for $10 at the farmers' market last week and I felt good about it. When I saw organic, California grown, blueberries at Costco for $9 per two pound box, I was down right excited. I bought four pounds! Such riches!
I made one batch with just blueberries, sugar and lemon juice. Another, I added mint. I have been trying to add mint to preserves for some time, but usually lose the brightness of the flavor. Also, herbs tend to turn brown when cooked in preserves. This is not so bad with blueberries, but looks terrible in lighter jams. I read an instruction in Blue Chair Jam Cookbook that worked splendidly - Simply steep the mint in the jam after boiling but before canning. The minty flavor is strong and bright. Mint and lemon are both great enhancers for blueberries. You should give them a try! I'm looking forward to cool, minted blueberry sundaes!
Minted Blueberry Jam
2 lbs. blue berries (about 6 cups, whole)
3 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 sprigs of mint, with stems, washed and towel dried (I used 3 peppermint and 3 spearmint)
Prepare 6 half-pint jars and their lids. Prepare the boiling water bath. Place a saucer with several teaspoons in the freezer.
Wash and pick over the berries. Remove any stems that are still attached. Mash half the berries. Place the mashed berries, whole berries, sugar and lemon juice in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat slightly and boil, stirring frequently. Blueberries have plenty of pectin and will thicken before they reach 220 degrees (the gel stage). Stir, watch and taste. When the jam starts to thicken, scoop out a small portion with one of the frozen spoons and place it back on the saucer in the freezer. Allow to just cool. Push the jam with your finger. If the surface wrinkles, it's done!
Remove the pot from the heat and skim off any foam. Use tongs to submerge the mint sprigs in the jam and swoosh them around. Allow to steep for about 5 minutes. Taste to see if the mint is forward enough for you. If not, let it steep a bit longer. (The minty flavor will diminish some with storage, so you might want to make it a tad strong.) Use the tongs to remove the mint springs and try to squish off any jam that sticks to them. Discard the mint. (Your compost will smell extra good!) Stir gently to distribute the fruit then carefully ladle into the hot, prepared jars. Wipe the rims and top with lids. Process in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Makes a bit more than 5 half pints.
Ps. For fantastic blueberry jam without the mint - omit the mint!