Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wild Blueberries

Last summer I discovered mulberries; yesterday I picked my first quart of wild blueberries. A walk around the block brought me to the mulberries; a drive across state lines and a five mile hike was necessary to find these blueberries, but it was well worth it. Wild blueberries are the very essence of blueberry. They're not as fleshy as their cultivated cousins and their seeds are more prominent, but they taste sweeter and bluer and somehow... berry-er.
These berries are probably best enjoyed in the woods: a sweet reward for energy spent, but if you do happen to have a container with you and if you have the self control to put more berries in the container than in your mouth and if you manage not to trip over any roots or rocks on your way down the mountain and spill your hard earned loot and if there are any berries left after the car ride home, you can make a delicious jam out of them.

Wild Blueberry Jam

Adapted from the Pomona's Universal Pectin box

  • 4 cups wild blueberries, mashed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. calcium water
  • 1 cup sugar, more or less depending on your taste
  • 2 tsp. pectin powder
  • Cover jars, lids, and rings with water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn of heat and let stand in hot water.
  • Place berries and lemon juice in a pot and add calcium water. Mix well. Combine sugar and pectin powder in a separate bowl, mixing thoroughly. Bring the fruit mixture to a boil. Add the sugar-pectin mixture and stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes, until dissolved. Bring back to the boil and remove promptly from heat.
  • Fill jars to 1/4 inch from the top. Wipe rims clean and screw on the 2-piece lids. Put filled jars in boiling water to cover. Boil for 10 minutes. Remove from water and allow to cool, listening for the distinctive popping sound of jars sealing.
When I have made jam in the past, I have used only fruit and sugar and lemon juice, shying away from adding pectin. I liked the simplicity of it. What I didn't like, however, was the vast quantity of sugar required. I felt that I could hardly taste the fruit through the sweetness, so yesterday I heeded a piece of advice I overheard an old lady dispensing two jam-making seasons ago: "Just buy pectin and use the recipe in the box. It works every time." And it did work. And for four cups of fruit I used just one cup of sugar and my jam tastes like the wild blueberries from which it is made.

No comments: