Last night, with the house all to myself for awhile, I thought the time was right for blueberry jam. My mom and I bought the blueberries with the lemons this weekend. They were from Mississippi and suitably soft (not firm and unripenedly sour as is unfortunately the case with most store-bought blueberries). It’s just barely early for blueberries here, but Mississippi, even being just a hair south of us, sometimes gets them earlier. Plus, it’s been a warm late Spring (i.e. feels-more-like-Summer-approaching-the-gates-of-Hell).
Last year, my first attempts at canning blueberry jam were really successful. This is generally attributed to the fact that the blueberries were bought directly from the blueberry magician at our farmer’s market. He and his wife only appear for about 2 weeks in the summer while they harvest the little violet spheres of summerjoy, and you cannot find blueberries like them (for purchase) anywhere else. These are just about the only blueberries I will bother with as store-bought berries so many times leave much to be desired. This post’s particular berries were fully ripe and local, which meant they were worth a shot in my book.
I found a blueberry lavender jam recipe in a Pinterest search. This sounded so lovely, except for the agave part. We’ve tried subbing in agave nectar in lieu of sugar, but it just isn’t something that pleases my little family’s palate. I also didn’t know if I wanted bits of lavender flowers actually in my jam. I basically measured out my fruit according to the Classic Pectin measurement chart, and winged it. I minced about 5 or 6 lavender flowers and put them in a cheesecloth tied with linen yarn, and dropped it into my fruit mixture. As the mixture cooked, I used the same potato masher that I used for the blueberries to press the cheesecloth to encourage much oozing of the lavender essence. At this point, all I could smell were blueberries. I’d just about decided that this method of infusing the lavender into the jam was a wash. I was already planning my next batch. It would have triple the amount of lavender flowers, and I’d pulverize them in the food processor and add them directly to the mixture. Then, I did the cold plate test. And I swished my finger through the dollop of jam to taste it. Wow. The lavender really came through! I’ll still use triple the amount of flowers next time (because more lavender is going to be a beautiful thing), but the cheesecloth worked just fine. There’s an incredible essence of lavender in the jam that I couldn’t imagine before I actually tasted it. The specifics are explained below! Let me know if you end up trying the recipe yourself!
2 pints blueberries
5 cups sugar
juice from 3 small/medium lemons (I started out measuring tsps and got to about 6 when I stopped measuring. then, I tasted the jam early on and decided it was too sweet, so I added another lemon).
4.5 Tbsp Classic Pectin
Lavender flowers*, stems removed, minced (add directly to jam or include in cheesecloth for the cooking section).
*This lavender came from my garden. My Google search for a place to buy it gave me Amazon and this place. It’s more fun to grow it yourself, if you can.
Put a saucer in the freezer. Start with blueberries, lemon juice, lavender and pectin in non-reactive pot on medium-high heat. Cook until this mixture boils even while stirring constantly and occasionally mashing the cheesecloth mixture (if you do it this way), add in sugar all at once and bring to boil – boiling hard, stirring constantly (still mashing the lavender sachet) for one solid minute.
At this point, I recommend testing with a cold saucer. If you forgot this step, an instant read or candy thermometer could work, too (220 F is the goal, I think). I’ve had some set failures by relying exclusively on our instant read, but never when I do the cold saucer test. Then, add the jam to prepared mason jars (I used half pints, and 4oz jars).
Final step – find more blueberries. Or as the case may be, apricots. 🙂