Last week, preserver extraordinaire Jess Ross, taught us a workshop on how to make blueberry jam. And, why make one kind of jam, when you can make 3! We made a standard pectin blueberry jam, a no-pectin blueberry jam and a no-pectin blueberry peach jam. And we tasted lots of delicious samples from Jess as we went along.
What is pectin, you might ask? Pectin is a gelling agent. It’s naturally occurring in fruit (in varying quantities), and you can also buy commercially produced pectin, like Certo brand. Pectin also tends to be higher in under-ripe fruit, so if you are looking to make no-Pectin jams, add some under-ripe berries to the mix or add some apple.
Jess provided us with a chart of natural pectic levels in fruit:
High: Apple, Cranberry, Black Currant, Quince, Plums
Medium: Red Currants, Blackberry, Raspberry, Peach, Blueberry, Holunder
Low: Strawberry, Cherry, Grape, White Cur rants, Tomato, Squash/ Pumpkin
We had some beautiful no-spray wild blueberries from Bonneyman’s Wild Blueberries for the workshop. We quickly sorted through the berries to remove any stems, and then our three teams got cooking.
Each jam had a different cooking time and while there is an approximate time included with each recipe, the freezer test will help you determine if your jam is ready. To do a freezer test, scoop a small amount of jam out of the pot and put it in the freezer for about 3 minute. Then take it out. If it has gelled, your jam is ready. If it’s still runny, keep cooking.
Here’s the Pectin Jam Recipe we used (from the Certo package)
4 1/2 cups crushed berries
2 Tbsp lemon juice
7 cups granulated sugar
1 pouch Certo Liquid Pectin
Crush berries, one layer at a time, or pulse in a food processor. In a large saucepan, stir together prepared fruit, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil hard 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in Certo liquid pectin. Stir and skim for 5 minutes. Pour into warm, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Cover with lids and screw rings on. Give 15 minute water bath.
Here’s the Non-pectin recipe we used (from the book Fancy Pantry)
Rinse berries. Crush them in two batches with a masher or pulse in Food Processor. Place berries and juices in heavy bottomed pot. Taste the berries- they should taste pleasantly tart. If not, add the lemon juice. If you are using high bush, definitely add the lemon juice, maybe a little extra if you can not really taste a difference. Stir in Sugar. Bring mix to a boil. Boil rapidly- stirring vigilantly
until the jam passes the freezer jelly test.
Ladle the jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Give a 15 minute water bath.
Yield: 3 cups
(To make the Peach Blueberry version, we substituted half of the blueberries for peaches.)