Sunday, August 18, 2013

Easy Blueberry Jam

I know, it sounds a little crazy to start with frozen blueberries when we're in the midst of blueberry season, but frozen blueberries are available all the time, and fresh ones are so fleeting. And often, they're not that great. I hate having to pick through a basket of little berries to pick out the mushy ones.

And, really, if your local blueberries are wonderful, you can freeze them yourself, and use your own frozen berries all year long. That's what I used to do when I used to go berry picking.

Meanwhile, I had purchased a bag of frozen blueberries before the fresh ones appeared at the market, and it made no sense to let those sit in the freezer and get older while I spent money on fresh ones that might not have been so great.

Feel free to use fresh berries. The recipe will be the same.

And ... I have to say that I've sort of fallen in love with instant pectin. I bought it for something other than jam - I was doing a little experimenting - and I was immediately enthralled with the idea that I could add this to a cool or cold liquid, and it would set without the need for heating.

Think about it. You can have almost-instant jam. Like, make it right before breakfast.

And, since you don't have to heat the fruit (unless you want to, which is a completely different discussion) you can have a super-fresh-tasting jam. Think about that. Mashed/chunked fresh strawberry jam. Oh yeah!

But ... in this case, I actually wanted the cooked-blueberry flavor. So I cooked the berries. And then I added the pectin while the fruit was still a little warm. And it worked. How about that? You don't have to heat the berries, but adding the pectin to a warm liquid doesn't ruin it.

And ... based on other little experiments, I can tell you that you can even cook the pectin with the fruit and it still works. The only tricky thing about this pectin is that you don't want to add it in one big lump, because then you have the possibility that you'll end up with some teeny clumps where the pectin sticks together. Sprinkle it in and whisk or stir it in as you go, and you'll be fine.

I got some spiffy citrus tools from Good Cook recently for a post about avocados (seriously, if you're working with avocados, you probably need lime, right?) and I decided to play with the citrus reamer since I needed lemon juice for this recipe.

A reamer is an old fashioned tool, for sure. I had a wooden one that disappeared into the maw of lost tools some time in the past decade. It was nice, but a wooden reamer isn't practical when it comes to cleaning. A plastic one makes more sense. Just chuck it in the dishwasher when you're done.

And it's simple to use. Just hold the cut lemon in one had, jam the pointy end of the reamer into the flesh of the fruit, and twist, mash, and gouge. Obviously, have a bowl there to catch the juice.

Then you can pick out the seeds (if there are any - aren't lemons these days showing up with fewer seeds?) or you can strain the juice if you want to make sure you aren't getting any pulp with the juice. Your choice.

There's not a ton of lemon in this jam, but I think the little bit brightens it up a bit. And blueberries and lemon are a great combo. Add more lemon, if you like. I mean, you can taste it and see if it's too sweet or if you want a tad more tartness. It's your jam. Make it exactly the way you like it.

And since this is a refrigerator jam and not one that you're canning, you don't need to worry about acid levels and things like that, which are much more important for products you're planning on storing at room temperature.

Easy Blueberry Jam

1 pound frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar (to taste)
2 tablespoons instant pectin

Put the berries, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan, Heat to boiling, stirring to melt the sugar. Mash some of the berries while leaving most of them whole so you have a chunky jam. Or, if you want them all mashed, have at it. It's your jam.

When the mixture comes to a boil, turn off the heat and let it cool. Add the instant pectin (sprinkle it in so it doesn't clump up) and stir until it's completely mixed in. It should begin to thicken as you stir.

If you like your jam a little looser, you can use a less pectin. That's the beauty of this instant stuff. You can add some, then add some more. But remember - it's going to thicken even more as it cools.

Transfer to a pint jar or other storage container and refrigerate.

I used this jam to fill some sweet buns, and also to fill some aebleskivers that I made. It's pretty darned good stuff.

This post was not sponsored in any way by Good Cook. I just happened to get the reamer from them recently and decided to have some fun with it.