Blueberries are in …..
… and my kitchen is a mess. The sink is piled high with stained utensils, just waiting to soak in warm sudsy water. I just cooked up and put up a batch of blueberry jam! Mason jars of various sizes line the counter, along with assorted extra rings and flat lids.
I’m sitting here at the computer now to rest and gather energy for the clean-up. It would have been easy to select pretty jars of jam at the grocery store or country market. But wait……
I would have missed the treat of going to the farm stand to buy freshly picked berries, the feel of those lovely little fruits as I washed and sorted them, the snappy sound of chopping them with a large chef knife, and the delight of discovering below the deep blue skin a soft yellow-green center.
And, I would have never had the fun of measuring all that sugar. This is where the nourishment factor of jam comes into question. The recipe calls for nearly two cups of sugar per one cup of fruit and states clearly that the full amount must be used.
“Oh well. It will be yummy on toast and muffins. I’ll spread it sparingly,” I think, while stirring the conglomerate of fruit and sugar together with a pat of butter. The butter is to reduce foam. Whoever knew that foam was a part of jam making?
Having stirred and cooked and timed, and after skimming off the surprise foam that snuck into the pot, I carefully ladle the hot mixture into sterile jars, using a funnel to prevent spills. A small portion goes into a custard cup.
Spots of deep reddish-purple end up on the stove and counter and on my linen kitchen towels, but all is well if I manage to keep the jars upright as they fill up with the steaming hot liquid. The potential for burns is real and caution is advised.
With lids and rings screwed on, the whole project is slowly lifted into a pot of bubbling water, one jar at a time, for the final treatment—the boiling water bath.
About ten minutes later, the jars are gently removed to a heat-resistant surface where they begin to cool. The change in temperature causes suction and lids pop as they are pulled tightly onto the jar. I count the pops to be sure all jars are sealed.
Finally, it’s time to relax, leave the jam alone to cool down, and taste the little sample that had been kept aside. It is sweet, still warm, and fresh as a morning garden full of new blossoms.
Hmmm …. delicious. No wonder I love to make blueberry jam!
Cynthia Knisley: After years as a “stay-at-home” mom, Cynthia enjoyed a fulfilling second career as a high school language teacher and curriculum developer. Recently, she took a leap of faith and left the classroom in order to devote more time to family—aging parents, adult children, and lively young grandchildren. Her home is in West Chester, PA, where she plays classical music, bakes bread, and tends a “secret garden.” A novice blogger, she welcomes you to her posts at firstname.lastname@example.org.