Friday, July 8, 2011

The Schnozberries Taste Like Schnozberries

Well, more like the blueberries taste like blueberries! My 4th of July weekend was full of blueberries I tell you, full of um! You see, my parents have this lake house, and at this lake house are about 8 HUGE blueberry bushes. This means that every summer my mom and I wake up early before the heat sets in and pick blueberries until our faces fall off. Give us about 20 minutes and we will have about 10 cups worth, no lie.

So a few weeks ago, I decided to make some blueberry jam. Little did I know that a little pectin goes a long way, i.e. my jam was about twice as tough as a Jello shot! A non-alcoholic Jello shot of course! So.... I thought, what would MacGyver do? He would make Jam bars of course!

(please be reminded that I'm not a food stylist!)

Blueberry Crumb Bars
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of 2 lemons
juice of one lemon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
OR substitute about 2-2.5 cups of your favorite jam for the last 3 ingredients.

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.
3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries.
4.Sprinkle the blueberry mixture (or jam+lemon juice) evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. (This took an extra 10 to 15 minutes in my oven.) Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Although these blueberry bars were delicious I was still feeling defeated because of my jam fiasco and vowed to try again. The second batch was good, really good.

Blueberry Jam
10 cups/3.5 lbs blueberries (preferably fresh but frozen will do)
1/4 cup lemon juice 
1/2 cup water
4 1/2 cups sugar (more or less to taste)
1 box Pectin

Other stuff:
Jar funnel
Jar grabber
At least 1 large pot
Large spoons and ladles
10 pints sized Ball jars with new lids (can reuse rings)

1. Wash jars and lids (I prefer washing the jars in the dishwasher so they are clean and hot right before I fill them and I boil the lids for about 5 minutes)
2. Wash and toss any unripe blueberries
3. Crush the berries by using a potato masher or putting them in a food processor/blender. I prefer chunkier jam so I don't crush them too much, but the consistency is up to you. You should have about 6-6.5 cups crushed.
4. Mix the dry pectin with about 1/4 cup of sugar or other sweetener (I prefer using about 3/4 of the pectin and adding the rest at the end just to make sure I don't overdo it.)
5. Mix the blueberries with the pectin/sugar and cook to a full boil (med- high heat) stirring often.
6. Add the remaining sugar and bring to a hard boil for 1 minute.
7. Test for desired thickness by chilling a spoon in ice water then take a half spoonful of the mix and let it cool to room temperature on the spoon. If it thickens up to the consistency you like, then you know the jam is ready. If not, mix in a little more pectin and bring it to a boil again for 1 minute.
8. Fill the jars to about 1/4 in from the top and wipe away spilled jam from the top(this is where the funnel comes in handy!), then put the lid and rings on. BE CAREFUL it will be hot!
9. Place closed jars in boiling water for 5 minutes making sure that the water is about 2 inches over the top of the jar. Remove with jar tongs and let cool.
 *if the top does not "pop" within 24 hours then you it's not sealed and you will need to keep it in the fridge, otherwise the jam will remain fresh and testy for about 12 months. PLEASE read up on preserving before you try canning of any kind as there are tons of "rules" that I may not have touched on.

I know canning can seem intimidating but I promise it's easy as can be. If you have any questions at all please feel free to email me or check out the Ball website! Happy canning!

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