So this afternoon, I did it. I made blueberry jam. As I mentioned earlier, I am always a little intimidated by any type of canning (its the whole botulism thing). As my regular readers know, we went blueberry picking yesterday (just missing the deluging thunder storm). Frank told me the only way he would go blueberry picking was if I made jam. Since I love any kind of farming-related activity, I promised jam. The jam called for 9 cups of blueberries and 6 cups of sugar, which takes a lot more room than I expected. I put all of it into my pot and started to cook. As usual, the girls decided they wanted something as soon as it started to boil, so off I went to make a smoothie. While I was blending the smoothie, I started to hear an unpleasant, yet highly recognizable sound. My jam was boiling over, all over my stove. Since I was in the middle of cooking the jam (and as I mentioned before, I am a little paranoid over canning) I couldn't do anything about the giant jam mess. So, I let it go and continued cooking.
Another problem I had (again, caused by my inexperience), was that I had no idea when it had cooked long enough. You can't tell if jam is ready to gel because the jam is hot and it doesn't gel until it cools. I tried following the instructions in the Blue Book of Canning, but, if you don't know what you are doing, the instructions don't really help.
So I finished cooking the jam, put it into the jars and performed the hot water bath (canning talk for immersing the jars in boiling water to kill any microbes that might be living in the jam, waiting to poison your loved ones).
It seems to have worked, I will know for sure tomorrow, but all the jars seem to be sealed. The instructions tell you to remove the screw top that holds the lid onto the jar for the processing. That scares me too much and I leave them on. I know I shouldn't need them but 40 years of grocery products experience is hard to overcome.
So the jam turned out awesome. we all had a piece of toast with jam after dinner and if I do say so myself, it is quite tasty. I know canning can be intimidating, but I highly recommend making jam if you find yourself with excess fruit of any type. If you need a recipe, send me an email at aalbane (at) optonline (dot) net. Let me know what kind of jam you are looking to make and I will send you a recipe. If you don't want to try the hot water bath, you can make freezer jam and keep it in the freezer until you use it. Try it, it will give you an amazing feeling of satisfaction when you see your jars lined up on the counter, ready to be eaten. Also, you can avoid shopping for jam for months, give it to friends or sell it on the Internet.