nosh friday: blueberry lavender jam
Last Sunday, I spent a lovely afternoon blueberry picking with my friend Kelley. I had gotten a sudden hankering to pick blueberries and through a quick Google search, discovered a family-owned organic blueberry farm a mere 20 minutes from my house. Pick your own organic blueberries for $2 a pound?!
Talk about good luck!
It was my first time blueberry picking and it was so fun; to have our hands stained purple with warm blueberries, feeling the weight of the full buckets around our waists. It was a very peaceful afternoon and I ended up with a foxy farmer’s tan.
So, what was an ambitious lady like myself to do with seven pounds of blueberries? Why, make jam, of course! I decided upon blueberry lavender, which turned out spectacular. The lavender adds a light floral taste that rises up through your nose and is the perfect counterbalance to the deep, winey essence of the blueberries. Blueberries are naturally high in pectin, which helps jam to…well, jam. This means you can use a 3 to 1 ratio of fruit to sugar, which is lower than many other fruits, which are traditionally 2 to 1 ratios. This jam comes out tasting intensely of sun-warmed blueberries, scented with the fragrance of a Provence summer afternoon.
Blueberry Lavender Jam
Adapted from Vanilla Garlic
3 lbs of blueberries (48 oz.)
1 lb of sugar (16 oz.)
3 T. dried lavender
Juice and zest of one large lemon, preferably organic
1/4 teaspoon of butter (this prevents foaming)
Day Before Jamming: Measure out your sugar using a kitchen scale and place in a large bowl. Measure the dried lavender into the center of a square of cheesecloth and tie up tightly in a sachet. Bury this sachet in the sugar and cover well, letting it sit preferably for 24 hours. This helps infuse the lavender essence into the sugar, which lends to a beautiful, full flavor in the jam.
Day Of Jamming: Wash the blueberries and toss them into a stainless steel or copper pot, or a enamel lined dutch oven (not an aluminum pot as this will leach). Mash the berries with a wooden spoon or a potato masher. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the lavender sachet, and stir. Let macerate for about 10 minutes. Place a small plate in the freezer, as this will be used for testing later.
Turn heat to medium-high. The mixture will bubble and froth vigorously. Skim the foam off the top with a slotted spoon, if necessary (the butter should help prevent foaming; I found stirring mine well kept it from foaming too much.) The boil will subside to larger bubbles, but still bubble vigorously. Be sure to stir frequently, to keep the jam from sticking to the bottom.
After about 20 minutes, begin testing the jam by placing a small amount on the cold plate. Allow 30 seconds to pass and then run your finger through it to see what the cooled consistency will be. Boil for a few minutes longer if desired for a thicker jam. (Because of the high amount of pectin, the jam sets up pretty well, so turn off the heat when it still seems just a little too liquidy.)
Remove the lavender sachet and discard, then ladle the jam into hot, sterilized canning jars* and seal leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Wipe the rims of the jars clean before applying the lids. Screw on the rings to finger-tight. Work quickly. Process in a water bath for about 10 minutes to ensure a good seal. (A large stock pot is perfect for this.)
Let the jars sit out on a towel overnight, and then store in a cool, dry place.
Makes 6 half-pint jars.
*To sterilize the jars, rinse out clean mason jars, dry them, and place them, including lids and rings, into a stock pot full of hot water. Bring to a boil and let sterilize for about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove jars, lids and rings just before ladling in jam and dry quickly, making sure they are still hot when filled with hot jam, to prevent breaking.