Having been raised harvesting Alaska wildberries you’d think I would be a pro at making jams and jellies. Truth is, I really stink at it. It always comes out syrupy. It’s like you have to have some sort of instinctual jam-making knowledge passed down through the generations.
But in reality all it takes is a lot of stirring. My mom has been making jam since she moved here in 1982. I turned to her for this segment of “Harvesting Anchorage.”
It was a bluebird day in Anchorage as we made our way to our super-secret blueberry spot. The only downside of picking berries on a sunny day is they are harder to see — but I’m not complaining!
Mama’s Blueberry Jam — a free recipe
Cooking time: about 30 minutes
- 8 cups blueberries
- 4 cups white sugar
- zest and juice of 1 lemon (optional)
Boil jars, lids and funnel in a large pot of water to sterilize. Once it reaches a boil, turn it down to low while preparing the jam.
Place two small dishes in the freezer. These will be used to test the thickness of the jam later.
Clean the berries and remove any twigs or leaves.
Add the lemon juice to a large pot. If not using a lemon, use 2-3 tablespoons of water instead. Pour in the blueberries and stir in the zest.
Turn flame to high until the berries start producing juice, about 3 minutes.
Add all of the sugar at once and stir. Once sugar is incorporated (about 1 minute) bring berries to a boil, stirring frequently.
When the berries are at a full boil (about 8 minutes), stir non-stop and closely monitor the flame so the mixture doesn’t boil over. Set a bowl beside the stove and start skimming off the fine foam that accumulates in the middle of the pot. Keep it at a rolling boil as much as you can.
Let the mixture boil down and thicken, about 15-18 minutes. Take a spoonful of the mixture and pour it back into the pot. If there are lots of frequent droplets, the mixture isn’t ready yet. If the drips are slow and turn into one big droplet, then it’s ready (that’s called “sheeting”). Turn off the heat and place a tablespoon of liquid in one of the frozen bowls. Put the bowl back in the freezer for about 3 minutes.
Remove sample from freezer and tip it slightly. The sample should stay put. If the jam slides around the bowl it means it’s not ready yet. Bring the jam back to a boil and continue stirring constantly for another 5 minutes. If you have a thermometer the mixture should read about 220 degrees F.
The mixture should have reduced considerably and should stick to the side of the pot slightly.
Ladle jam into sterilized jars. Fill leaving about 1/4 inch of space at the top. Add the lids and let cool. When you hear little pops that means the lids have sealed.
Check out my other “Harvesting Anchorage” blog posts from this summer: