Friday, July 11, 2008

No Fuss Blueberry Jam

Okay, so I guess I technically cheated - I made freezer jam. But, the point is, it worked.

Last Monday, we picked 23 pounds of blueberries and yesterday we were down to our last 6-8 cups and I have to say, they weren't in terrible shape considering it has been over a week. Some were getting a bit too soft, but quite a few were still firm and only one showed any sign of mold. Not bad.

However, it was quite apparent that we were reaching a crucial point and really needed to use them up, so I decided to try jam since, compared to most recipes, this would use up the largest amount of blueberries. I have never done any canning before and though I plan to learn, this wasn't the time. After doing a bit of reading, I decided I wanted to try freezer jam and went to the store to get some pectin.

Once I was there, it was a bit confusing. They had regular pectin and freezer jam pectin. The freezer jam recipe looked incredibly easy - no cooking at all. Then I took a look at the ingredients and noticed that the freezer jam pectin contained several added ingredients, including a preservative: dextrose, fruit pectin, citric acid (assists gel), sodium citrate (controls acidity), potassium sorbate (preservative). I wasn't too keen on using something with a preservative since that's part of the attractiveness of making my own jam in the first place, but then I noticed that with this recipe, you only use 1 1/2 cups of sugar per 4 cups of berries. That's a lot lot less sugar than a cooked jam recipe where the ratio is generally 1:1.

Anyway, I ended up grabbing some regular pectin and one package of the freezer jam pectin. Once home, I kept hemming and hawing and finally decided to give the freezer jam pectin a try. It's very easy. You mix 1 1/2 cups of sugar with the package of pectin, add 4 cups of crushed berries, stir for 3 minutes, let it sit for 30 minutes to let it set and you're done. Ridiculously easy!

Crushed Blueberries

As I mashed the blueberries, I was looking at the rather gross mush on my plate and having second thoughts. For some reason, squished blueberries make me think of squished bugs - they just look gross! (My photos of the final mashed product didn't come out.....too bad, huh?) Then I started thinking about having to bite into a jam full of blueberry skins. Even if I could get past it, I knew the family would not. And these problems are unique to blueberries - any other kind of berry - no skin, no brown squishy "guts".

I finally decided that I simply had to run them through the food processor. Not only would this eliminate the problem of biting into all of those skins, but I knew from making blueberry ice cream, that it would make the whole mixture turn a much more attractive color of purple instead of the brownish colors you get from just crushing the berries. I had read that you shouldn't use a food processor because it can break down the natural pectin in the berries and prevent your jam from setting (the Ball instructions also say not to process the berries), but I decided to try it anyway. If it didn't work, I figured I could probably find some way to save it.

Blueberry Jam
I'm happy to say that it worked just fine. In no time I had a lovely blueberry jam. I suppose I don't have chunks of fruit as you should with a proper jam, but as I said earlier, that might not be such a bad thing when it comes to blueberries. Since pureeing the berries reduced the overall volume when compared to crushing them, I decided to go with 3 1/2 cups of pureed berries versus the 4 cups of crushed berries - I was afraid the jam might not set if I had too much berry puree. This seemed to work great. It's a tad on the sweet side, but very good nonetheless and certainly A LOT less sugar than most recipes.

So, my experiment was a success. I now have 6 1-cup containers of blueberry jam in the fridge and freezer, waiting to be enjoyed the rest of the year. I'm still not keen on the preservatives used in this pectin, so next time I'm thinking about trying the freezer jam recipe I found inside the package of regular pectin (which contains dextrose, fruit pectin and citric acid). The drawback there? 5 1/4 cups of sugar for 3 cups of berries. Hmmmm..........


  1. Well done on the jam! I prefer to make canned jam- but only because I simply don't have room in the freezer to store jam. Too many other things get tucked in there! I've always thought, though, that freezer jam tastes much fresher and more like the fruit than cooked jam does. My absolute favorite jam is a spiced blueberry jam- it's incredible on scones and English muffins.

  2. Thanks Erika. We have a lot of freezer space, so this is a good option for us. I do like that the fruit isn't cooked too. :)

  3. Looks scrumptious. I'll admit to being attracted to the lower sugar content myself. And this is a nice way to use up small amounts of berries.

    Did you make any of the blueberry bounce while you were at it? :)

  4. Looks yummy!

    Last year I made jelly with regular liquid pectin and some Concord grapes that grow on the property. My mother said it was so sweet that it made her "teeth rattle". (Not a good thing.)

    This year I am trying Pomona's Universal Pectin available at online at It give you the option to use less/no sugar. I have not tried it yet but will later on today. I'll let you know how it works. ~ksp

  5. That looks really good. Wish I had some right now.

  6. Wow, I'm impressed! Making jam is something I'm still just aspiring to...canning intimidates me. I might have to try the freezer jam method - it seems less complicated, and that might be a good thing for my first try.

  7. Lo - No blueberry bounce! :) I think I missed that post the first time around.

    Kelli - Definitely let me know how the less sugar option worked. I've seen that in the stores too.

    Nerissa - It's a nice summer treat.:)

    Elisabeth - I'm a bit intimidated too, but even more than that, who wants a hot stove going all day in the middle of summer?? That's the paradox with canning, I suppose. This was incredibly easy, so I encourage anyone to give it a try.

  8. My father is a huge fan of blueberry jam and I always try to make it for him whenever we see my parents. although i am also fan of blueberry jam. thank you for shearing your post.

  9. Nice jam, I like jam, just wonder what is the proper measurement of potassium sorbate for fruit jam ?

  10. Cassie5:34 PM

    This is too funny but today my boyfriend and I picked 23 pounds of blueberries and then I stumbled upon your blog! I am going to replicate your freezer jam because it looks scrumptious! :)