Welcome to the 342nd Metamorphosis Monday!
I love blueberries, they’re my favorite fruit in the whole world. I eat them every single day, even during the winter if I can find them. When my son was little, we used to pick them every summer at a local farm, Berry Patch Farms, that’s around 30 minutes from our home. My son was just 4 years old when this picture was taken. We loved picking berries at this particular farm because they encouraged you to eat as many as you wanted while you picked.
I used to joke that it was a good thing they didn’t weigh us when we first arrived and then again after we were done picking berries. We definitely ate our fill while picking them! Some years the bushes were so loaded down and the berries were so fat and ripe, we could literally just rake our hand down the branch and the berries would fall in big bunches into our pail. You didn’t need to pick them, they almost leapt into your bucket! It didn’t take very long to pick a lot of berries those years.
Such good memories! I wish I could go back to this day for just a few minutes. I guess it’s a good thing that I can’t because I wouldn’t want to leave. ~~~Sigh~~~
It’s been a long time since I made blueberry jam, but with blueberry season here, I was craving some fresh blueberry jam. In the past when I’ve made jam, I’ve always used store-bought pectin to thicken it up. Recently I came across a recipe that didn’t include pectin. It never occurred to me that jam could be made without pectin. I really liked that idea and decided to give it a try.
Spoiler Alert: The jam I made and that I’m sharing in this post today is by far the best tasting jam I have ever made. I don’t know if the blueberries were just that good or if leaving the pectin out made the difference. All I know is I’m never using pectin again. Never!
To make my blueberry jam, I only needed three ingredients: blueberries, sugar and a little fresh lemon juice. That’s it! For this batch of blueberry jam, I used 6 cups of crushed blueberries, 4 cups of sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. I wasn’t sure how many whole blueberries would equal 6 cups of crushed blueberries, so I bought a lot of blueberries. I decided to measure how many I was crushing so I’d know for future reference. In the end I found it took 9 cups of whole blueberries to get 6 cups of crushed blueberries.
I already had my canning jars and the other supplies I needed from when I made peach jam last summer. For my jam this year, I used pint size, Ball Canning Jars from my local True Value Hardware store. They can be found at True Value here: Ball Canning Jars
Last year I also purchased a tall 23-quart pressure canner from True Value. Before, I’d never had a pot that was quite tall enough for hot water bath canning, the type needed when canning fruit. Since I needed a taller pot, I decided to go with a pressure canner so if I ever wanted to can any low acidic veggies like beans, peas, corn, carrots, I’d be all set. This baby will work for all your canning needs!
I also purchased this set of canning utensils last year. So glad I have them because they are invaluable in the canning process. I noticed the set True Value sells is even better because it includes tongs and a jar wrench. Very handy! You’ll find it here: Canning Utensil Set
After washing my canning jars (I washed a bunch since I wasn’t sure how many I’d need) I put them in the canner and covered them with water. The pot only needs to be filled with enough water to cover the tops of the jars by about two inches.
I used the insert that came with my canner in the bottom of the pot. It’s not a good idea to place the jars directly onto the bottom of the pot since it gets so hot. Instead you’ll want to use an insert like this one.
There seems to be a little debate over whether it’s necessary to sterilize the jars, lids, etc.. when canning. Some of the information I’ve found in various canning books I’ve consulted says it’s not necessary to sterilize the jars because the jam will heat up later (inside the jars) to a temperature that would kill germs that could be lurking. But I’ve also read in other books that you should sterilize the jars. Confusing, I know!
I went ahead and did it this time. Last year I didn’t do it when I made my peach jam and it was fine. I just finished off the last jar a couple of months ago and it was still perfectly fine. But, if you would rather err on the side of caution, go ahead and sterilize your jars and lids by placing them in a hot water bath, bringing it to a light boil, then gently boiling them in the water for about 15 minutes. Don’t remove them when you’re finished. Just turn off the heat under them and leave them in the water. Later when you add your hot jam to the jars, it’s best if they are already hot so there’s no chance they’ll break due to a temperature change.
I washed my blueberries thoroughly before crushing them.
To crush them, I used an old-fashioned potato masher. At first the berries were pretty firm and I had to press down much harder than I had expected. After just a few seconds though, they became much easier to crush.
To make the jam, I dumped all 6 cups of crushed blueberries into a large Dutch oven. This is the same pot I used when I make my homemade vegetable beef soup. Next I added in the 4 cups of sugar.
Then, I poured in 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.
Stir everything up and cook your berry mixture over medium heat. Bring your berries to a gentle boil, stirring frequently to make sure all the sugar has been mixed in well and has dissolved.
After your berry mixture has been cooking for a while at a gentle boil, start looking for signs that it’s beginning to thicken. One good way to test is a method I read about at the site where I found this recipe. Place a couple of plates in your refrigerator, then when your jam begins to look a little thicker, do a test dribble onto a cold plate to see what happens.
The first few times you do this, it’s going to be a little runny like you see in the picture below. Keep cooking your jam and keep testing it every few minutes on a really cold plate. (Put a couple of plates in the refrigerator or freezer ahead of time to get them cold. After each test, I stuck my plate back into the freezer so it would stay cold. After a bit, I noticed that the jam didn’t run very much and I knew it was about ready.
If you’ve ever made icing or candies on the stove, you know when it’s jelled enough. But the cold plate test really does help a lot.
Now that my jam was thickening up, it was time to remove the hot jars from their hot water bath. I always use some metal tongs to do that because they make it really easy to tilt the jars to let the water run out.
I put the lids in later, and to remove them I used this little magnetic lid lifter that came in the canning kit shown earlier.
With everything ready, it was time fill the jars with the hot blueberry jam.
The funnel that comes in the kit from True Value is the perfect size to fit into the mouth of canning jars. I can’t imagine filling the jar without this funnel! You need to fill your jar about 1/4 inch from the top. I ended up with a little more head space left in my jars, but 1/4 inch is a good standard to go by when filling them.
Before placing the lids on, take a clean cloth and wipe around the top rim of your jar. That will ensure you’ll get a good, clean seal when the lid is placed on the jar. The magnetic lid lifter again comes in handy for putting the hot lids atop the hot, jam-filled jars. When you screw the rings over the top of your jars, do not over-tighten them. Just screw them on until them are on, finger-tight. That’s all that is needed.
I scooped a little of the left over jam out of the pot so you can see how thick it got. You definitely do not need pectin when making blueberry jam, unless you just want to use it.
Often when making jam, during the cooking process a bunch of foam will accumulate on the surface and you have to take the time to scoop it all off before putting your jam into jars. I don’t know if it was because I didn’t use pectin this time or what, but there was virtually no foam on the surface to scoop off.
In this picture where the jam is cooking, that’s just a rolling boil and not foam. Once I turned the jam off and let it cool off for just a minute before I began filling the jars, there was barely (if any) foam on the surface.
Using the jar lifter that came in my kit, I placed my hot jam-filled jars back into the hot water bath. If some of your water has boiled out, add back enough to cover your jars completely. Make sure you add hot water if you have to add any. You don’t want to risk cracking your jars since they will already be very hot.
Bring the water to a boil and keep it boiling for around 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let the jars sit for a few minutes so you’re not trying to remove them from boiling hot water.
Again, you’ll want to use a jar lifter like the one that came in my kit to remove your jam from the hot water.
Be sure to place your jam where it can sit completely undisturbed for about 24 hours. You don’t want to move them during this time. Within just a few seconds of placing my jam on the counter, the lids began making that cute popping sound that they do shortly after you remove them from the hot water.
When your canning process has gone as it should, you’ll notice that each lid is slightly sunk downward in the center. That’s what the popping sound is, the lid being sucked downward, so that’s a good sign when you hear them popping. I love hearing them! 🙂
Confession time: I took this picture about 4-5 days after I had finished canning my blueberries and you’ll notice there’s only 3 jars showing in the picture.
That’s because this jam was so good, I had already gone through an entire jar by the time I got around to taking these photos. lol
This truly is the best tasting blueberry jam I’ve ever made. The lemon juice gives it just the right zing and I’m not sure if the lack of pectin changed the way it tasted or not, but this recipe surely turned out some fine jam!
If you’re nervous about the idea of making jam, don’t be! I usually only make it once a year and so far (knock on wood) I’ve never had a failure. If I can do it making it no more often than that, you definitely can!
You can see it came out nice and thick.
This may sound weird but the consistency and the way it felt in the mouth was different without the pectin, and I liked it much better! It just has such a great consistency both on the plate and in the mouth. Have you ever made jam without pectin? Did you notice a change in the consistency for the better?
Are you a major blueberry fan like me? I can’t wait to try this non-pectin way of making jam with strawberries now! Yummm, strawberry jam! True Value has a great video tutorial if you’re looking for more inspiration!
I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.
Looking forward to all the fabulous Before and Afters for this Met Monday!
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