I was back at the WCSH6 studios the other day, taping a new segment on Blueberry-Vanilla Jam for “207”.  Since it’s winter, I’ve been making this recipe with frozen berries.  And you know what?  I actually prefer using frozen at this time of year, as I can use locally-grown berries.  I froze a bunch last summer, but grocery stores around here carry Maine grown berries as well.  This jam has become a new favorite around our house–it’s been disappearing from the fridge surprisingly quickly (Okay, I admit to a not-so-occasional spoonful right from the jar….and I suspect I’m not the only one!)  Hope you enjoy it, too!

Video copyright WCSH6, Portland, Maine

Yield: 4-5 half-pint jars

A note about storage options for your jam:
***This recipe includes directions for canning your jam.  However, you may instead freeze your jam, or keep it in the refrigerator.  To do this, simply omit the canning portion of the directions (steps 7-10), then, after cooking, allow your jam to cool, place in freezer safe containers, and freeze or refrigerate as desired.  If you are freezing your jam,  be sure to leave extra space at the top of your jars to allow for expansion during freezing. Your jam will store well in the freezer for several months, and in the refrigerator they’ll last for 2 to 3 weeks.  

To do ahead of time:
***Prepare the calcium water.  To do this, combine 1/2 teaspoon white calcium powder (included in the Pomona’s Universal Pectin package) with 1/2 cup water in a small, clear container with a lid. Shake well before using.  Note that you will have more calcium water than you will end up using in this recipe; simply store it in the refrigerator for later use.

To do ahead of time, if you plan to can your jam:
***Wash and rinse five half-pint jars, lids, and screw bands.  Set screw bands aside until ready to use.  Place jars in hot water bath canner, fill at least 2/3 of the way full with water, and bring to a boil.  Sterilize jars for 10 minutes (add 1 additional minute of sterilizing time for every 1000 feet above sea level), then turn down heat and let jars stand in hot water until ready to use.  Place lids in water in a small pan, bring to a low simmer, and hold there until ready to use.

8 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons calcium water
1 vanilla bean
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons Pomona’s Universal Pectin powder

1.) Rinse fresh blueberries if desired. If using frozen blueberries, thaw them, but do not rinse them. Then, in a large bowl, thoroughly mash fresh or thawed berries.

2.) Slice vanilla bean pod in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.  Set the seeds and the pod aside.

3.) Measure out 4 cups of mashed blueberries. (If you have any left over, you can use it for something else.) Pour measured mashed berries into a large sauce pan. Add lemon juice, calcium water, vanilla bean seeds, and vanilla bean pod.

4.) In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and pectin powder.  Mix well and set aside.

5.) Bring blueberries to a rolling boil over high heat. Add sugar-pectin mixture, then stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes, still over high heat, to dissolve pectin. Return mixture to a boil, then remove jam from heat.

6.) Using tongs or a spoon, carefully remove and discard vanilla bean pod.

7.) Remove hot jars from canner and fill jars with preserves, leaving ¼  inch of headspace.  Remove trapped air bubbles, wipe rims with a damp cloth, and put on lids and screw bands.

8.) Place jars in the hot water in the canner, place the lid on the canner, return the canner to a rolling boil, and boil for 10 minutes. (Add 1 minute additional processing time for every 1000 feet above sea level.)

9.) Turn off heat and allow canner and jars to sit for 5 minutes.  Then, remove jars from canner.

10.) Allow jars to cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours. Then, confirm that jars have sealed.  Enjoy your preserves!  Or, store properly for later use.