Thursday, July 28, 2011

Blueberry Mint Jam

I got a great cookbook for Christmas last year, called The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, by Rachel Saunders.  I have learned so much about jam from this book! Saunders doesn't use any pectin, just fruit, lemon juice and sugar, and somewhat longer cooking times in some cases. I learned a great way to judge the set of jam--whether it's done or not--from her book:  you put four or five spoons on a plate in the freezer.  When you think the jam is about done, you put some of it in one of the spoons, freeze it for four minutes, take it out, and look at it.  If it's the consistency you want, not too runny and not too stiff, the jam is done. My jam is a lot better now as a result of learning this test.

The other thing I've learned from this book is that it's ok to flavor jam with "unusual" flavorings. For example, she suggests steeping a few mint sprigs in your blueberry jam after it is done, before putting it in the jars. I did this with my last batch of blueberry jam, and I think it made the jam more interesting.

There are a lot of interesting marmalade recipes in the book, and a great lemon-peach marmalade that I made earlier in the summer. Saunders has access to lots of varieties of gourmet fruit on the West Coast that we can't always get here in the Southeast, but if I ever find any Seville oranges, for example, I sure will make her Seville orange marmalade.

Saunders processes her jam in the oven, but the Ball Blue Book says not to do that, so I process them in boiling water as per usual with canning, for about ten minutes.

Here's the recipe for blueberry jam with mint:

3 (8 inch) sprigs mint
2 lbs 10 oz blueberries
1 lb 10 oz sugar
6 oz strained freshly squeezed lemon juice

Put the five spoons on a plate in the freezer.

Combine the blueberries, sugar and lemon juice in a wide kettle. Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring, until the juice begins to run. Then increase the heat to high. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture boils. Cook it for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, decreasing the heat slightly if it starts to stick. Begin testing after 10 minutes (with the frozen spoons).

Turn off the heat and skim the foam off the surface of the jam. {This is the stuff I used to make the ice cream the other day.}  Steep the mint in the jam for two minutes off the heat. Taste the jam and see if it's minty enough.  When it is, take out the mint with tongs and discard. Pour the jam into sterilized jars and process.

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