While attending classes at the Culinary Institute of America I took a trip to Red Hook, New York. There was a u-pick blueberry farm just off the main drag with the biggest blueberries I’ve ever laid eyes on. Blueberries were never high on my list favorites. Granted they taste terrific, but I could pass on them without blinking an eye.

Why I bought a quart is still a mystery to me, but I did. Back at the apartment Scott, my classmate and roommate at the time, and I laid into them with a fervor that could get you arrested in most states. The next day I went back for more. My life was changed by food yet once more.

Berries in upstate New York this year have been incredible. Large, full of flavor, and fat with color, they scream to be made into jam. The blueberries, while not as huge as the Red Hook gang, are especially tasty. Ergo, jam!

Making preserves is so easy it’s almost silly not to make your own. There is not a lot of equipment you need, the process is relatively quick, the ingredients are easily found, and the jars are reusable. But the best part is opening a jar of blueberry, raspberry, peach, strawberry, or whatever your fruit choice is in the middle of winter. Believe me, its like opening a jar of summer everytime.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 cups blueberries, chopped to yield 4 1/2 cups
  • 2 tablespoons lime, fresh squeezed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 package pectin
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest

METHOD:

1 – In a food processor, pulse the 6 cups of blueberries until chopped but not totally liquified. You will end up with 4 1/2 cups, if not add more blueberries.

2 – Add all ingredients and 1/2 of the sugar and all the honey in an 8 quart or larger stainless steel pot. Bring to a roiling boil over high heat, stirring constantly with a long handle, stainless steel spoon. Add the remainder of the sugar and bring back to a roiling boil. Let it boil hard for one to two minutes, stirring continuously, checking the consistency to watch for jelling.

3 – Ladle in to 8 ounce jars, cover and process in a water bath for 15 minutes.

NOTES: If you are going to make any amount of jams or jellies there are a few tools you should invest in. First is a large stainless steel stock pot, a two gallon would be fine. Next you should have (you DO have one, don’t you?) a restaurant grade stainless spoon so you can check the sheeting and jelling action of the fruit as its cooking. When the fruit slides off the spoon in a nice sheet and starts to jell around the edges of the spoon, you are ready to pack the fruit.

You should also invest the two or three dollars for a canning funnel. It makes the work a whole lot cleaner and simpler to clean up.

Personally, and I’m far from a germophobe, a water bath pot or another large stock pot is handy to process the jars once filled and sealed. Is it necessary? Many people preserve without a water bath so probably not. It just makes me feel better.

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