Friday, 27 September 2013

Tutorial and Recipe: Blueberry Nutmeg Jam


Being a baker as well as a full-time administrative professional can lead to certain...expectations on the part of friends and family at times.  This was in evidence at my wedding, too!  I just *knew* that if I didn't make my own cake and do the dessert table myself, my guests would be asking why I didn't provide the desserts, considering it's not only what I do for a living, but my passion?

Well, that's what I imagined they would say, anyway...

The same thing applied to my choice of wedding favours as well. My three reasons: 1) I wanted to make something that would not only be appreciated at the moment of the giving, but later on, after the wedding was but a distant memory; 2) It was important to me to not just give out some cheap little piece of bric a brac that would be shoved in a cabinet and forgotten about, donated, thrown away, or broken within a few short months, and 3) I wanted to share my love of and skill in baking and desserts with the people I loved the most!

So, what is a gift that satisfies these criteria?  Food, of course! To that end, I decided on making three delicious homemade jams, with the jam colours consistent with my wedding colours -- or at least as close an approximation as I could get. I processed them in cute little 125 mL jars, and let guests choose which jams -- and how many -- they would like to take home with them.

This tutorial and recipe is for the Blueberry Nutmeg Jam one of my amazing bridesmaids and I made in the month leading up to my August wedding:

Blueberry Nutmeg Jam

Step 1: Prepare your workspace. From left to right you see screw-bands (for holding the lid inserts on the jars), a head-space gauge (the blue stick), a jar lifter, jars, and a canning funnel (not pictured, inserts and lid lifter magnet).

While you don't technically need anything other than the jars, lids, and screw-bands, these other supplies make the process of making jam much easier and safer.

Step 2: Prepare your canner. If you don't own a canner (see photo), a large, deep pot will do. To avoid the jars touching the bottom of the pot, crumple up some tinfoil and flatten into a circle slightly smaller than your pot's diameter. Rest the jars on the foil disk when placing them in the canner for processing.

The most important thing to ensure is that the pot's sides are high enough that water will be able to cover the tops of the jars when they are submerged.


Bring water to a rolling boil on your stove (one of the back burners). Add your jars and process them in the boiling water bath for 5 minutes, then turn down the heat to a simmer until needed.

 
Step 3: Meanwhile, prepare your lid inserts.  While it's not necessary to boil the screw-bands, the lid inserts do need to be boiled briefly to sterilize them and activate the glue band.  Once the pot comes to a boil, turn down to a simmer and keep it handy.



Step 4: Recipe!
Blueberry Jam
(Original Recipe and instructions courtesy of De Bernardin website)

Yield: 8 x 250 ml jars, or 16 x 125 mL jars
To make this jam, you will need the following ingredients:
  • 4- 1/2 cups (1125 ml) fresh blueberries, about 4 pints (2 L)
  • 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 4 tbsp (60 ml) lemon juice
  • 2 pouches (170 ml) Liquid Pectin
  • 7 cups (1250 ml) granulated sugar
Rinse blueberries, add to a large, deep, stainless steel saucepan, and crush roughly with a potato masher (this may be easier to do 1 cup at a time). 

Add the lemon juice, nutmeg, and all the sugar, and stir together to combine. 




Over high heat, bring mixture to a full, rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.


Add both packets of liquid pectin together, squeezing entire contents from both pouches. Stir into mixture to completely combine; bring back to a full, hard boil for one full minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, skim off foam and discard.

Ladle hot jam into a hot jar to within 1/4" of top of jar (headspace). Using a nonmetallic utensil, remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if required, by adding more jam. Wipe jar rim removing any food residue. 





 
Center hot sealing disc on clean jar rim. 











Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight. 






 

Return filled jar to rack in canner. Repeat for remaining jam.
When canner is filled, ensure that all jars are covered by at least 1" of water. Cover canner and bring water to full rolling boil before starting to count processing time. 

At altitudes up to 1000 ft (305 m), process (boil filled jars) for 10 minutes.


When processing time is complete, turn stove off, remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars without tilting and place them upright on a protected work surface. Cool upright, undisturbed, for 24 hours; DO NOT RE-TIGHTEN screw bands.
After cooling, check the jar seals. Sealed discs curve downward and do not move when pressed. Any jars that move up and down (making the *poink!* sound), are for the refrigerator only and are good for up to two weeks.

Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars to minimize rusting. Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired.  Label jars, and store in a cool, dark place. 

For best quality, use home canned foods within one year.