Category Archives: Canning

Blueberry Chai Jam

IMG_9696

Up until last summer, canning anything really terrified me. I was certain I would create jars of botulism-ridden, bacteria filled foods and most definitely kill someone. Unintentionally. (Ahem.) Then I made some jams, I made and canned squash pickles, dill pickles, green bean pickles, pesto and marinara sauces, diced tomatoes… and I didn’t accidentally sicken anyone while sharing!

IMG_7340

Recently blueberries have begun to make their beautiful blue-purple appearance in the Pacific Northwest. These fresh berries are sweet and juicy, and although it often feels like it’s quite the splurge to indulge in the cost of these organic blueberries, I usually give in. They’re excellent by the handful, on yogurt, in muffins, pies, tarts, ice cream

But over the last few years, I think my favorite way to enjoy them is in jam, year round. I like simple, plain jam… and then I also enjoy flavorful, spiced jams. I love stirring a spoonful of either type into vanilla yogurt or my bowl of oatmeal. I decided to add some chai flavors to the following blueberry jam. The result is warmth, sweetness, earthy spiciness that balances nicely with the blueberries.

There is a certain loveliness about jams, jellies, and preserves you’ve canned yourself. I especially enjoy giving a jar of them as a gift, as I know the time, love, focus, and heart that goes into each batch. (Plus if it didn’t taste good, I wouldn’t let it leave my kitchen.) My intention with this blueberry jam was to enjoy its summery, warming flavor dead in the middle of winter-to-come. However, I seem to have issues with eating it by the spoonful. May you have more self-control than I! :) But if not, I totally condone eating this jam as quickly as you want.

IMG_9712

Blueberry Chai Jam

Yields about 8 half-pint jars.

Ingredients:
8 cups fresh blueberries, stems removed
3 3/4 cups unrefined cane sugar
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ceylon cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground anise
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

IMG_7367

Directions:

First of all: since this is a canned preserve, it’s important to make sure your jars and lids are sterilized.

Next, place a plate in the freezer to use to test the readiness of the jam once its done.

Begin by sterilizing your jam jars. Boil the empty jars in a large stockpot of water, with at least one inch of water covering them for at least ten minutes. Leave the jars in the water, turn the burner off and begin making the jam.

Place the blueberries, sugar and fresh lemon juice together in a large heavy bottomed pot. Let the juices macerate for about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla bean (scraped insides plus the pod), cinnamon stick and spices. Bring the mixture to a low simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the jam reaches 220-225 degrees F and remains at that temperature steadily for at least 10 minutes. If the mixture foams up a bit that is totally normal, just keep it simmering.

After 40 minutes, test the jam on the plate that has been in the freezer. Spoon out a teaspoon of the jam onto the plate and let it sit for a minute. If you pick up the plate, tilt it and the jam does not run, it’s done. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Bring the water the jars were sitting in back to a boil and pull out the jars. Spoon jam into each jar and wipe the top edges with a damp towel. Then place the lids and caps on the jars and immerse back into the boiling water for 15 minutes, with at least an inch of water covering the tops.

Once the jam is done, set on the counter to cool until you hear the ever-glorious-and-satisfying POP! indicating your jars sealed correctly. Wait until completely cooled to check that the jars sealed. If any didn’t properly seal, simply place in the refrigerator and consume! Keep stored at room temperature for up to 1 year for best flavor.

IMG_9685

IMG_9721

IMG_9683

Ginger Apple Plum Jam

IMG_3724_zps4010ec21

Can we talk about canning? The whole process has fascinated me for quite some time, but until recently I stayed far away from it. I was terrified I’d create jars swarming with bacterial toxins that cause botulism, inevitably killing folks. It scared me enough to keep from canning all together. Then I started researching MANY small batch jam and pickle recipes and realized that the bacteria that causes botulism cannot thrive in the environment that the majority of jam and pickle recipes create. The fruit and vinegar in these respective types of home canning situations are too acidic.

IMG_4260_zps3f4b6279

The desire for homemade jams and pickles absolutely outweighed my now seemingly irrational fear. So I started experimenting. Making jam is not difficult, so long as you follow some basic rule for safe canning. The heat used in proper canning seals the jars in a way that keeps air and little organisms from creeping in. The heating process also kills undesirable “ingredients” like bacteria, mold, and yeast, as well as the naturally occurring enzymes that cause food spoilage. Miracle food. :)

When I was gifted some plums from my mother-in-law’s neighbor, I already knew I was going to make a jam with them. In part because I don’t care for whole plums, but simultaneously enjoy their sweet tartness. A jam seemed like a good way to enhance the flavor of already delicious fruit. Since plums do have some sourness, I decided to incorporate apples for sweetness, and fresh ginger to deepen the overall flavor. The consistency of this jam was intentionally a bit chunky – I like the bits of sweet apple that keep their shape in the slightly tart surrounding jam.

I told my husband I knew it was good because after I’d jarred up all the jam, I didn’t share the leftovers clinging to the pot or my stirring spoon… I absolutely demolished every last remnant myself and couldn’t wait to eat more. I may also have unsealed one of the jars within 15 minutes of it coming out of the water bath, so I could have just one more spoonful (or five).

IMG_4231_zps66eb114a

Ginger Apple Plum Jam

Yields about eight 8-oz. jars.

Ingredients:

2 pounds santa rosa plums, firm ones do well
2 pounds fuji apples
2 cups unrefined cane sugar
zest and juice of one lime
1 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
2-inch piece of ginger, peeled
½ cup candied ginger, minced
Pomona’s Universal Pectin: follow instructions to make the calcium water, then use 4 tsp. calcium water, 2 tsp. pectin

Directions:

Pit the plums, then dice them into tiny bite-sized pieces (think 1/4-inch cubes, at the biggest). Core the apples, then dice them in the same way as the plums. Place them in a large stock pot, along with the lime juice,  and zest, then let the fruit sit for 30 minutes.

IMG_3682_zps8280f74a

Meanwhile, place a metal rack or extra screw bands from the canning jars, into the bottom of a heavy, large stockpot, which is at least 3-inches deeper than the height of the jars. Fill the pot with water, then arrange the jars you plan to fill in the pot (without the lids and bands), cover the pot and bring the water to just under boiling. Reduce the heat to low. Place the lids in a small saucepan, cover them with cold water and bring to a simmer. Keep at a simmer (NOT boiling!) while you make the jam.

Stir the pectin and sugar together, then set aside. Place your stock pot filled with fruit on the stove. Very finely mince the ginger and add it to the fruits. Add the calcium water, nutmeg, and candied ginger. Stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, occasionally stirring. Once the mixture reaches boiling, quickly stir in the sugar/pectin mixture, continuing to stir until the pectin is completely incorporated. Mash to thicken the jam, using a potato masher. Bring the heat to about 220-degrees. Remove from heat.

Drain the the hot water out of the jars that have been simmering. Place the jars on a flat surface. Ladle the hot jam into each jar, leaving about 1/4-inch of space on top. Wipe the rims and sides. Lift a lid from the pot of simmering water, shake it dry, then seal the top of each jar with the lid and a screw band. Fill all of the jars like this.

IMG_4267_zpsd0c906f5

Place the jars on the rack in your large stock pot, still filled with water. Cover and water-process the jars for 10 minutes (begin timing once they’re gone in the water. After 10 minutes, remove the jars from the hot water without tilting them. Let them cool completely at room temperature.

After 15-24 hours, check the seal on each jar by undoing the screw band and checking the lid. You should be able to safely lift the jar by the lid without it shifting or coming off. If the jar has properly sealed, it’s shelf-stable for up to a year. If it didn’t seal, place the jar in the fridge and eat sooner than later.