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patience rewarded

Recipe: blueberry jam

We’re just a couple weeks away from summer and everyone I know is busy doing stuff. I can’t keep track of who is where and doing what and when anymore (forget about keeping track on Facebook, the only thing in my feed the past few days has been the Red Wedding). We have been working on so many things around here that the local flora has been popping up like a surprise party.

suprise! gold banner

Last year, when I started on my canning kick, I felt like I was in a frenzy to grab up the local peaches and ripe strawberries and ripe local luscious wonderful tomatoes. But when I said (in my head) that I would like to make some blueberry jam, I found that organic blueberries were prohibitively expensive. At $6 a pint, one batch of jam would cost me $36 for the blueberries alone. Screw that, I said to myself. Besides, I had a hundred pounds of tomatoes to can. No blueberry jam.

My friend, Laura, gave me a heads up on a one-day special at Whole Foods Boulder last Friday: $1.99 per pint of organic blueberries. Hello?! I was in town that day. I bought a case. Weekend project: blueberry jam.

you are mine

six pints of blueberries

all you need: sugar, lemon, cinnamon, nutmeg, pectin, and blueberries

The first thing to do is squish the blueberries. I tried mashing them with a heavy meat tenderizer and they sort of went zipping out of the bowl. I set the meat tenderizer down and decided to squash them by hand, one by one. The point is to break the skin so the juices release and come into contact with the sugar otherwise the sugar will be too dry and may burn during the jamming process. It’s a good activity for non-skilled associates (children, spouses, other relations, friends, even strangers), but I don’t recommend asking the dog to help. I found it to be rather therapeutic. Also, my fingers didn’t stain (much) because blueberry guts are almost colorless and the skins didn’t seem to release much of their deep color on my hands.

i’m crushing your head (who remembers that skit?!)

mix the sugar with the crushed berries

zest and juice the lemon while the berries boil

Once the blueberries and sugar have come to a boil, add the spices, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Give it a good stir and return everything to a boil until it thickens. It takes about 20 minutes. As the jam thickens, it will start to spatter. That can be scary since you have to stir the jam frequently to keep it from sticking or burning on the bottom of the pan. A splatter screen is a great way to keep your kitchen from acquiring purple dots everywhere. Stir the pectin in when the jam is thick and let it boil another 5 minutes.

grating nutmeg

add the lemon juice

pouring the pectin into the jam


You don’t have to can the jam if you don’t want to. I made two batches of jam and had three leftover jars that wouldn’t fit in the canner, so I popped them into the refrigerator for immediate consumption/gifting. If you do decide the can the jam, give it 1/2 inch headspace and you’re good to go. My writeup of the recipe below gives instructions for canning with both Weck and Ball jars because I use both. I used some of the refrigerator jam with yogurt and it was delightful!

just a few spoonfuls of jam with a cup of yogurt


year #2 of canning is underway!

Blueberry Jam
[print recipe]
from Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan

6 cups smashed blueberries (this is about 6 dry pints or 1.7 kg blueberries)
4 cups (800g) sugar
1 lemon, juice and zest of
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
6 oz. (170 ml or 2 packets) liquid pectin

Notes: I have made this recipe using both Weck and Ball jars. The Weck site has some nice canning instructions if you are using their jars, which differ slightly from the standard instructions for canning with Ball-style jars. Marisa uses pint jars in her book recipe, but I used 8-ounce jars and 5-ounce jars. The yield is estimated at 3 1-pint jars, but mine yielded slightly more.

Canning prep: Ready the boiling water bath and the clean (washed with soap and water) jars you plan to use for canning. Check your jars and lids for nicks or cracks – don’t use them if they have any because it could jeopardize creating a good seal. If using standard Ball or similar style jars, it helps to put them in the pot you plan to use for canning and fill them (and the pot) with water, then bring to a boil. Keep the jars at a simmer (180°F) until they are ready to use. Place the lids in a small saucepan with enough water to cover them and set to a simmer over low heat (high heat can compromise the gummy seal material). If using Weck jars, you only need to sterilize your jars and glass lids if they will be processed for less than 10 minutes. Place the rubber rings in a small saucepan of water and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes then leave them in the hot water until you are ready to use them.

Make the blueberry jam: Combine the smashed blueberries and sugar in a large non-reactive pot. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the blueberries and boil 15-20 minutes. Stir the jam frequently to avoid burning at the bottom of the pan. When the jam has thickened and looks shiny, stir in the liquid pectin. Let it return to a rolling boil for 5 minutes. Remove the jam from heat and start ladling jam into the jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.

Can the jam: Use a cloth to wipe the rims clean and apply the lids and rings of the Ball-style jars to fingertip tight (just tightened with fingertips – not super tight). If using Weck jars, place the rubber rings on the glass lids and set them on the jars. Secure the lids with two canning clamps for each jar – 180° from each other (across from each other). Set the jars in your canning bath (either on a jar rack or a makeshift cooling rack – just be sure they are not set directly on the bottom of the pot) and check that there is at least 1-2 inches of water above the lids of the jars – if not, add more water. Once the pot has returned to a boil, process for 10 minutes if you are at an altitude of sea-level to 1,000 feet above sea level (asl). For 1,001 to 3,000 feet asl, add another 5 minutes to the 10 minute processing time. For 3,001 to 6,000 feet asl, add 10 minutes to the 10 minute processing time. For 6,001 to 8,000 feet asl, add another 15 minutes to the 10 minute processing time. And finally, for 8,001 to 10,000 feet asl add an additional 20 minutes to the 10 minute processing time for a total of 30 minutes.

When the jams are done processing, remove them from the canning bath and place them on a towel-lined countertop to let them cool. Don’t mess with them! For the metal lids, you may hear the “ping” of the seals forming as the center of the lid gets sucked down. There will be no pinging of the Weck lids, but you may notice the tongue of the rubber band pointing down (this is good). Let the jars cool for 24 hours. Remove the bands or clamps and lift the jar an inch or so off your work surface (carefully – in case the seal is bad and breaks) by the lid. If the seal is good, it should hold. Store the jars in a cool, dark location for up to a year (take the clamps and rings off). Also, any jar with a bad seal can be stored in the refrigerator.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to can the jam, you can store it in the refrigerator (I think for up to a year). Makes 3 1-pint (500 ml) jars or 6 8-ounce (250 ml) jars.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

peach jam strawberry vanilla jam blueberry peach crisp blueberry lime poundcake

36 nibbles at “patience rewarded”

  1. debbie says:

    Thanks for this recipe. Never made jam so it’s good to have these step by step pics if I plan to. LOVE blueberries and the prices for them down in Virginia is not bad right now. Sometimes they are crazy high!!!

  2. GG @ Quieting Life says:

    I never thought to use nutmeg with blueberries. Must try it this year. PS: If you start the blueberries and sugar together over low heat, you can smash them in the pan with a potato masher.

  3. Heather C says:

    Thanks for the recipe. I might have to try some this year with the 100 pounds I usually buy in the summer. And who knew that “Kids in the Hall” had such loyal followers south of the border?!?

  4. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    I love blueberry jam! I will definitely try this a later in the summer when blueberries here get just a little less expensive….

  5. Julia says:

    Applying heat first so that the blueberries become soft and then either mashing with a potato masher or against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon is the easiest way to do it. The other thing is that blueberries (and lemons) have a lot of pectin so additional pectin isn’t strictly necessary. Because of the high amount of pectin, I have to be careful not to overcook blueberry jam so that it doesn’t get hard.

  6. Marisa says:

    You know, I had every intention of buying blueberries when they were on sale at Whole Foods and it just totally slipped my mind. So glad you got yourself some and made jam!

  7. Abbe@This is How I Cook says:

    You put me to shame. My husband just commented on a jar of blueberry jalapeno jam that he spotted in the fridge. Seems he would like some more. Do I dare?

  8. Cheryl from Cornell says:

    I love “I’m crushing yo’ head”!!! It’s so fun when people are least expecting it. HA HA! Big smile on my face right now!!! :0)

  9. jill says:

    mmmm, heaven in a jar

  10. David says:

    I’m a huge fan of homemade blueberry jam. Most store bought versions can’t compete with what a person can make at home with some in-season blueberries. I have never thought to use cinnamon and nutmeg. I’m going to have to give it a try when the blueberries roll in at the farmer’s market.

  11. farmerpam says:

    Out of all the things I can, my kids like blueberry jam the best. There’s really nothing like going into the root cellar in the middle of winter and having a hard time deciding what to choose….Yes, we can!

  12. Pey-Lih says:

    I was just looking at jam and jelly maker with the Ball manufacturer. This is a kitchen project I have always wanted to try, because I love jam on toast in the mornings, especially apricot. Blueberry jam reminds me of ACADIA National Park in Maine…good memories. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Carla says:

    Has anyone tried using Pamona pectin? I like the idea of being able to use less sugar, but still want a jam that will store well and taste good. Thanks..

  14. Links: Meyer Lemon Jam, Kerr Jars, and a Winner | Food in Jars says:

    […] miss the beautiful photos of blueberry jam that Jen posted on Use Real […]

  15. jenyu says:

    debbie – yes, sometimes they are INSANELY high :)

    GG – the nutmeg is lovely. I quite like it. Thanks for that blueberry mushing tip!

    Heather – ah yes, Kids in the Hall. Jeremy introduced me to them in the 90s and we still love them. I always thought those five guys could portray female characters incredibly well (and convincingly)!

    Rocky Mountain Woman – yep! It’s all about the prices coming down!

    Julia – thanks for the tip. The jam isn’t that hard, but I’ve heard from others that pectin isn’t necessary.

    Marisa – thanks, sweetie!

    Abbe – :)

    Cheryl – yay, another fan!

    jill – I’ll save one for you guys!

    David – so true. Hope you like the nutmeg and cinnamon – it’s lovely.

    farmerpam – absolutely! I love walking down to our basement to grab the fruits of summer in the middle of winter!

    Pey-Lih – Marisa’s blog ( is a great reference for anyone wanting to start jamming and canning.

    Carla – I’ve never heard of it, but I’ll have to look into that.

  16. Farmer's Market Friday: Blueberries | Pocket Change Gourmet says:

    […] Blueberry Jam […]

  17. sparkle kitchen – jam poetry | Sparkle Stories Blog says:

    […] blueberries.  But I wanted something — again — with a little character.  So I picked this recipe I found on Pinterest (thanks […]

  18. Kara says:

    Hi there! I just made this recipe (minus the pectin) and was planning on freezing because I didn’t have canning stuff. I realized I didn’t let it “set up” on the counter for a day or two before putting in the freezer. Is this step necessary because this one is cooked? I hope I didn’t screw up since I made a TON! :( Help!

  19. jenyu says:

    Kara – Not sure what you mean by “set up” as I’ve only made jam that was eventually canned. I think if it goes straight into the freezer it should be fine. Even if it doesn’t set, it would make a great syrup on pancakes or waffles! :)

  20. Patsy Jenkins Williams says:

    I wish you had Pinterest I do not have a priner and I pin most everything to Pinterest… Recipe to long to write recipe… would love to try some of our recipes if you ever decide to use Pinterest!! sounds yummy and I love blueberries..

  21. Bill says:

    Folks – No need to worry about mashing the blueberry if you freeze them first. Once frozen, add water to thaw and then, they become just perfect for jam. Try it and let me know.

  22. blueberry jam danishes | morestomach says:

    […] Filling 1 cup good quality blueberry jam, in my case, it was homemade! recipe found here. […]

  23. Thumbprint Cookies with Blueberry Jam - Give Recipe says:

    […] If you’re looking for a complete recipe for bluebery jam to preserve in jars, check out this Blueberry Jam Recipe with step by step […]

  24. mhelay says:

    hi, is it ok if i make it without pectin juice? thanks

  25. mhelay says:

    hi, good day. just want to know if it’s ok to make this one without pectin juice.

  26. jenyu says:

    mheley – I haven’t made this without pectin, but friends of mine have said that blueberries should have enough natural pectin to jam on their own. So perhaps give it a try? You’ll know before canning if the jam will set (it will thicken while cooking it down).

  27. Ericka says:

    I would like to freeze this. Would I skip the bathing process at the end and just let them sit overnight, then freeze them?

  28. jenyu says:

    Ericka – I haven’t tried freezing the jam before, but yes – I would skip canning and when the jam has cooled in a freezer-safe container, freeze it.

  29. ColleenB. says:

    Looks like a wonderful recipe but I do wish you had a printable option button so that we can print out the whole step by step instructions/recipe. Makes much easier for us newcomers just stating out to can if we had a printable recipe to go by.
    Thank you

  30. ColleenB. says:

    Oh dum dum me. I just now spotted the ‘print’ option.

  31. Jo says:

    I made this tonight but added blackberries with it and it is amazing!

  32. Blueberry Maple Moonshine Jam says:

    […] found this recipe on Pinterest. It seemed easy enough so I thought I would go with that. I decided to add a little moonshine to […]

  33. angela says:

    hi peeps,
    can someone tell me why the use of lemon?.
    i have a citric acid allergy and need advice maybe on an alternative please
    thanks in advance

  34. jenyu says:

    angela – I think the point of the acid is to keep it safe for canning (from botulism). Not sure what an alternative would be, but try googling – I’m sure there are others with similar allergies who have pondered the same question. Best of luck.

  35. Links: Meyer Lemon Jam, Kerr Jars, and a Winner - Food in Jars says:

    […] miss the beautiful photos of blueberry jam that Jen posted on Use Real […]

  36. Heinz Probst says:

    Pomona pectin works extremely well. You can buy packets like certo or by the pound like I do.
    Most jams use 2 cups of sugar instead of 5 to 7. Tastes the same. I make a hundred or more cases regular and pomona during the year. Mostly for our church fundraisers.

    Hint for the person using liquid pectin for blueberry jam I just use 1 box of crystals. Makes it less expensive. I also buy frozen berries when fresh are not available or too expensive.

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