As often as I can I take my boys pickin. In the past we have primarily picked blueberries, strawberries and apples. One thing we almost always have on hand is homemade strawberry jam. Its an absolute favorite of mine. Every single bite is not just a memory of my own childhood but a memory of my kids at every age appreciating the simple beauty of home canned strawberry jam. There is really nothing like homemade preserves. About half way through the year I inevitably run out of strawberry jam. I could buy frozen strawberries or I could even pay a small fortune for “fresh” strawberries. Instead I usually go for something entirely different. Strawberry jam is a sacred summertime ritual that is so incredibly good in part because of my little blondies smudged with strawberry kisses, but also the incredible sweetness of truly fresh fruit.
Blueberries are a very close second favorite in my house. We’ve picked them at a farm near by many years however, the price of pick your own “local” berries are actually higher than just grabbing frozen ones at the store. (In the summer they are still cheaper fresh at the supermarket. I actually went to the store to purchase extra’s one year because I’d run short on a batch of jam.) Of course I’m all for sustainable and local, but the reality of the matter is that driving over an hour to pay a higher price for pick your own berries is kind of shitty. Not to mention that in the past few years there have been increases in chemicals, pesticides and anti-fungals sprayed due to the wacky climate and bugs. I grew up in Maine until about the age of 12. My Dad is a hard core Mainer and really if you ask him “our blueberries” just suck. (that’s the short of it at least.) Blueberries in Maine are not like the blueberries anywhere else. Seeing that I can’t hop, skip and leap into a Maine blueberry orchard I’ve come to adore Wyman’s of Maine blueberry products. Their juice makes pretty wonderful jelly that is reminiscent of the purple stuff but without corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, sodium citrate and whatever else is in the purple jiggle. Wyman’s frozen blueberries are quite often stashed away in my ice box just ready to be put in cobbler, smoothies, pie or a jar of this beautifully blue hue’d wonder. This compote is great for flavoring homemade yogurt, awesome on pancakes, its delicious on toast too, but my kids really dig it on their grain free waffles.
-Maine Blueberry Compote-
.Super Easy Homemade Blueberry Jam For Any Time of the Year.
With a richer more raisin like flavor Maine blueberries make pretty fierce jam. This stupid simple recipe is a low sugar compote, jam, preserves or whatever you want to call it. Blueberries much like raspberries have a naturally high level of pectin. No packets are needed, and since these blueberries are good and sweet you really don’t need to use much sugar. In the past I’ve used gobs of sugar and pectin, and I assure you that you really don’t need it. I’ve found that the more sugar you use the more you dilute the natural flavor of the blueberries. You can halve this recipe but I do not recommend doubling.
3 pounds, Maine Blueberries
2 cups Raw sugar, or desired un-refined natural sweetener (See Note)
Juice and Zest from one Lime (or Lemon)
In a big stock pot combine blueberries and sugar. If using frozen there’s no need to thaw them first. Bring mixture to a rapid boil. Boil for ten minutes, stirring continuously. Reduce the heat if it becomes too much like an erupting volcano for you, or if it seems to be scorching. If you don’t use a big enough pot you will have a hot (literally hot…and blue) mess. (luckily I was wearing a tie dye shirt) If you want a less chunky mixture use a potato masher to pop and smash the berries.
The jam will be visibly thicker once it is ready. You can test it with a frozen spoon, or place some on a plate and refrigerate it for a few moments. It should hold onto a frozen spoon and set to a semi-solid state on the plate once chilled. Refrigerate, freeze or can as desired.
To can: Sterilize jars in the dishwasher or in boiling water. Place lids and rings in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Dry the jars and carefully pour jam into each one. Wipe the rims, lids and rings clean of any water or jam. Place the lid on top of the jar and tighten the rings on top. Place into boiling water and process for 10 minutes or longer according to your altitude. (the back of your canning jar box will specify)
Note: You can use regular, raw, muscavado or whatever sweetener you wish that is a 1 to 1 equivalent to regular sugar. I use sucanat and fine grain raw sugar in combination. Sucanat and other unrefined sugars are minimally processed. Its made the same way as maple sugar, the sap or juice is simply boiled down until it crystallizes. This sugar is not “bleached” or purified of its beneficial nutrients. On the downside raw sugars can take some getting used to. They still contain their molasses content so therefore are more robust. I mix sucanat with raw, with other stuff. My sugar jar is a hodge podge of whatever I found wherever that wasn’t heavily processed.