One of my favorite things about summer is the fruit. The nectarines are amazing, the plums are incredible, and the berries… they are the best!
We had raspberries in the garden growing up, so they are my emotional favorite. Tim’s family has blackberries, so they’re a favorite too. But there’s just something about blueberries and strawberries… I love ’em.
I’m always so sad when their season ends (as it is ending now). I’m thankful for the others, don’t get me wrong. But, I want berry season to last as long as possible.
There are plenty of ways to preserve these summer treasures. You can freeze washed berries, pitted cherries, and halved stone fruit on a baking sheet, and then pop them into a bag. You can make tons of crisps and cobblers and wrap them up really well and freeze them for November. You can make sauces and smoothies to be pulled out when the weather has turned cold.
And, you can make jam.
Last summer I decided that I would try. Surprisingly, it turned out. The catch was that I wanted to make it sans pectin and sugar. I didn’t know if you could, but I wanted to.
And I did.
I made three kinds: cherry, strawberry, and blueberry.
We ran out a few months ago. This year, I don’t intend to run out. So I made a ton. First strawberry (which follows the same recipe), then blueberry.
Before you start, make sure you have clean jars and lids (the lid is the flat piece, and is not re-useable if you want them to seal, the band is the part that wraps around the jar and screws into place).
I don’t have a dishwasher, so I used a pot of boiling water and boiled for about ten minutes.
I love lemon zest, so I opted to add a bunch for a hint of brightness, instead of only using lemon juice.
In general, if possible, any time I use a lemon, I zest it first. Why waste such goodness?! If there’s any extra, it goes into the freezer.
Strawberry jam is a bit more of a process than blueberry. There’s hulling and chopping involved.
It’s gonna be messy.
But it’s worth it.
When I was making the strawberry, I forgot how much the stuff bubbles up. I had to move it to two pots, since the one was a bit too small.
I was wiser with the blueberries.
It’s not going to be thick thick, like jam made with pectin. But, it will thicken up a bit. Cook it until it’s as thick as you want it (you can test it by putting a plate in the freezer and putting a dollop of jam on it so it will cool quickly, then test to see how runny it is), even if that’s longer than the time listed in the recipe.
Jars are filled and left to cool on the counter for a bit. You should hear the lids popping as they seal. Sealed or not, I like to store them in the freezer (after fully cooling in the fridge), even after they’re opened. (There are different opinions on how long properly canned homemade jam will last unrefrigerated. (1) Since I didn’t pressure cook or process the jam in boiling water after adding it to the jars, I opted to be extra safe and keep them in the freezer, even if they did seal. In my experience, they have lasted as long as it took to consume them – less than a year, in the freezer. I hope that this summer’s batch will last more than a year, stored in the freezer. Once opened, stored in the fridge, they usually are fine for a month or two, maybe more. Just keep an eye out for mold. Jams with less sugar and that aren’t commercially prepared tend to have a shorter shelf life. (1) So be mindful of that, and whether or not you have pressure cooked them, when deciding where to store them.)
This jam is perfect for the usual toast or English muffin, to top ice cream, or to be eaten by the spoonful by a hungry food blogger.
- 12 C blueberries or strawberries (strawberries: hulled and chopped)
- 4 C honey
- 1 C maple syrup
- 3 T lemon zest
- 3/4 C lemon juice
- Bring berries through lemon zest to a boil. Mash with a potato masher. Once it comes to a rapid boil, cook for 3-5 minutes.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice, and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Ladle into jars, leaving about 1/2″ of space at the top. Cover with the lid and let stand for 15-30 minutes.
- Store at room temperature if they’ve sealed, or in the freezer if they haven’t (or if you just want to).
- Makes about 6 pints (or 12 half pints).
(1) I have referenced this site for information on the shelf life of jam.