May 14, 2013
Just as the Strawberries finish, in between the Zucchini…the Blueberry season starts in Florida. We start to see the first glorious berries in March. I am so lucky to have found the wonderful family that owns Spring Valley Farms in Umatilla, Florida. Vesna and Chuck have been amazing and incredibly generous, and I am so grateful to have them in my life. This year I have produced Blueberry DiSaronno, Blueberry Verbena, Blueberry Basil, and Blueberry Citrus Jams along with Blueberry Syrup and sumptuous Pickled Blueberries. We go out the farm as often as we can during the growing season. Silvio rides in the car with me, he has worked with me for two years now, I don’ t know what I would do without his help to clean, prep and help me cook all of the wonderful products we make.
I wanted to post up a recipe for my Blueberry Basil Jam. Fresh Basil gives the jam a really subtle and delightful flavor. I make my jams without commerical pectin. This is a bit more time consuming, but I believe it is worth it for the lose set it gives the final product. If you give this recipe a go, I would love to hear how you like it.
Recipe for Bluberry Basil Jam
from Wendy Read with Sunchowder’s Emporia
Yield: 13 or so Eight oz Jars
4 1/2 lbs of Fresh Blueberries
3 1/4 lbs sugar
Zest and juice of one large lemon
25 or more large (2 inch or so) fresh Basil Leaves (more if you want the taste to be stronger)
1 8 oz jar of Apple Jelly to be added after the mixture reaches 221.
Using the largest heavy bottomed pan you may have (I use a copper jam pot), add the rinsed berries, sugar, lemon zest and juice. Put this on the fire and mix thoroughly. In the meantime, take the basil leaves and bruise them to bring out the fragrance. I put my leaves in a large tea infuser and drop in the pan. If you don’t have one, wrap the leaves in cheesecloth, tie with string and drop into the pot. Stir and bring this mixture up to 221, this will take at least 25 to 35 minutes. Once the mixture is holding at 221/222, add the 8 oz jar of apple jelly. Stir and continue to cook, either using a thermometer or by eye. The mixture needs to thicken a bit and Blueberries do not have much natural pectin. If the mixture does not thicken, you will be left with Blueberry Syrup. On a themometer, I have brought this mixture up to 224/225 until it looks just right. The jam will always have a loose set, btu it will be gorgeous compared to using commercial pectin. Each batch will be just that little bit different, be kind and gentle with yourself if this is your first foray into jam making! Fetch out the tea infuser or cheesecloth containing your basil leaves. Using a ladle and canning funnel, pour the jam into your sterlized jars and process in a hot water bath canner for 11 minutes. This jam is incredible over pancakes and waffles, as a scone topping or bunged into a quick bread mix. You can also use it to top goat cheeses, as a glaze for pork–so many uses!
Basic Granny Smith Apple Jelly Recipe
4.5 Pounds Granny Smith Apples (whole)
2 1/4 lbs sugar
1 Juice of large Lemon
Scrub the apples and cut the fruit into quarters leaving the skin intact. Place them into a large dutch oven and cover with the 6 1/2 cups of water. Bring this up to a slow boil and simmer on low for about 25 minutes (the apples should just be starting to fall apart). Get out a container and rest your chinois or strainer inside. Pour the apple mixture into the chiniois and use your wooden tool or the back of a spatula to press all the juice out of the mixture. You will then take this juice and strain it again. I use a smaller strainer and I take a wet piece of cheesecloth and pour the mixture through again–this ensures that the jelly will be clear. Now take 4 1/2 cups of this mixture and place it it your preserving pan–add the sugar and lemon. Bring this mixture up to a boil and continue to hold thre until your thermometer reaches 221. You can skim the mixture as you go. Once you reach 221, shut the fire and let it rest for 5 minutes. Go back now, turn the fire back up to reach 221 degrees. In my experience, this little rest ensures a good gel. Pour this mixture into 8 oz sterlized jars, seal and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. You should have six jars or so to put up the pantry to use not only to make this jam, but any jam that would require commercial pectin.