Monday, July 9, 2012

blueberry blackcap jam

sunday has always been my favourite day of the week.

growing up, sunday morning meant mama got her new york times and papa made dutch babies and my brother would wake up late and listen to fats waller.

now, it’s the day of my neighborhood farmers market and i love to walk down the quiet streets and listen to the humming of the baptist churches.

yesterday it was hot. well, hot for portland (seventy-nine ain't too bad for most folks). i skipped the market and the gospel hymns, and headed for the countryside on sauvie island, a long stretch of farm land in the willamette river, to pick berries in the sunshine. 

our destination was columbia farms, a sweet family owned "u-pick" farm about five miles inland.  to get there, we passed long horned cattle grazing in wispy yellow grass and osprey nests that tilt over fake telephone poles and quickly moving cyclists

 the farm land has all sorts of berries; strawberries, raspberries, boysenberries, blackberries, currents, blueberries. they also have blackcaps. i'd never seen them before, they're slightly chalky, small, dark berries. they are soft and sweet and lovely. 

we picked until our baskets were full, and headed home across the saint johns bridge and with sun stained skin and sleepy eyes, the afternoon inevitably became a much appreciated, extended siesta.

when i woke up this morning, i could hardly think of what to do with the crates of berries that covered my dining room table. actually, to the contrary, i couldn't think of what NOT to do. 

because it's summertime, i tend to get nostalgic about norther michigan - the fresh water swims, the smoked salmon roadside stands, the four dollar diner breakfast, the hidden petoskey stones, the sky.  so today, i decided to make a batch of jam that i made last last summer from wild northern michigan blueberries.

it is a recipe i will continue to make over the course of my life, as a reminder of home. 

the base for this recipe comes from the blue chair jam cookbook "blueberry jam with mint" by rachel saunders 

rachel saunders recipes for jam are immaculate - the photographs in her book are lovely and her commentary on fruit and jam making is romantic and heartfelt. the blue chair jam cookbook is one of my favourite books to flip through just for the pure joy of it. the recipe that follows is paraphrased from her own.

blueberry blackcap jam

2 pounds 2 ounces blueberries
10 ounces blackcap berries
1 pound 10 ounces white cane sugar
6 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained

preheat your oven to 250 degrees, place a rack in the middle. while it is heating, rinse out six 250 ml glass ball canning jars. place glass on a sheet pan, and leave lids out to air dry on a clean towel. once oven is hot, place sheet pan inside. the jars should heat in the oven for at least a half an hour to ensure that they are fully sterilized. now, place 3 spoons in your freezer - these will be used for testing readiness of jam.

in a wide pot, combine blueberries, black caps, sugar, and lemon juice over medium-high heat. stir constantly. when the blueberries turn glossy and plump, they will start to release their juices. at this point, turn your heat to high and continue stirring until mixture begins to boil. once it reaches a boil, cook for 10 minutes, stirring all the while.

after 10 minutes, you can begin testing for doneness. i think that rachel saunders method for checking doneness is fool-proof, it is as follows: "to test for doneness, carefully transfer a small representative half spoonful of jam into one of your frozen spoons. replace the spoon in the freezer for 3 to 4 minutes, then remove and carefully feel the underside of the spoon. it should be neither warm nor cold; if it is still warm, return it to the freezer for a moment. tilt the spoon vertically to see whether the jam runs; if it does not, it is ready. if it does, cook the jam for another few minutes, stirring, and test again as needed"

pull out your sterilized jars from the oven. carefully pour the jam into each jar. making sure lids are totally dry, put then on tightly to each jar. place capped jars back into oven and heat for about 10 minutes to help sealing process. 

remove from oven, place jars onto a cooling rack.

1 comment:

  1. I tried to make the jar of jam you gave me last year stretch.... and only made it one month! Great recipe made by a lovely woman. Thanks for sharing your experience!