Adventures in Canning: Blueberry Maple Moonshine Jam
Ok. So jam is a tad bit more difficult than green beans. Though it's not really that the steps are hard, it's just way easier to mess it up. And, as I learned from my first batch, once you mess up there's really nothing you can do other than make a new batch. I started with blueberries and decided to make a batch of blueberry maple moonshine jam. I was inspired because Mr. T and I bought this amazing blueberry bourbon jam in NYC and I wanted to recreate it. I also thought I would make a regular blueberry batch as well. I picked a good time because, per the farmer's market, now is the time to buy blueberries for jam because they're the sweetest. Apparently the later you get in the season the less sweet they are (is that gramatically correct?).
Anyway, found this recipe on Pinterest. It seemed easy enough so I thought I would go with that. I decided to add a little moonshine to the recipe because I found maple flavored moonshine at the store. And doesn't that sound delicious?
I decided that I would split the recipe into two pans since it makes six pints and I didn't want it to all be the same. I'd put the moonshine in half the batch and leave it out in the other half. Well, that was a huge mistake. I ended up with something similar to a fruit roll up because I cooked it for too long. It was fine going into the jars, but once it cooled it wasn't spreadable. My mom and I realized after the mess up that I cooked the mixture in each of the pans according to the directions. Since I didn't have as much liquid in the pans, I should have cooked it for a lot less. So that batch went in the trash and I made it again. The second batch turned out amazing. I seriously can't stop eating it.
So, for the plain blueberry jam, just follow the instructions in the recipe. When you add the jam to the jar it will look like blueberry soup. This terrified me since that's how I am when I'm cooking all liquids. I'm always afraid that it won't set up so I tend to overcook it or add too much to thicken it and then have to add something to unthicken it. But go for blueberry soup and you'll be fine. Trust me. The texture changes a lot when it cools. If you're worried about it, you can test it. Just dip a spoon in the mixture and let it cool. It should cool to a thicker, jelly like texture. And don't forget that it's going to cook more once you process it.
And here's how I made the blueberry maple moonshine jam.
Blueberry Maple Moonshine Jam Recipe (Slightly adapted from the one on Pinterest)
6 cups smashed blueberries (I smashed them by hand) 4 cups sugar 1 lime, juice and zest of (I ran out of lemons because of my mishap. I asked the Googles and apparently you can usually use lemons and limes interchangeably in canning. Unless it specifically calls for limes because the acidity is different.) 2 tsps ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 6 oz. liquid pectin 8-10 tablespoons of maple moonshine (trust me, it's not too much)
Heat the smashed blueberries and sugar to a boil. Add the lime, cinnamon, nutmeg, and maple moonshine. I recommend tasting as you add the moonshine. You can can add a little more or less if you like. But, again, it's not too much. With the maple flavoring it tastes so yummy. Even my mom loves it and she's not a boozer.
Let it cook for 15 minutes. Then add the pectin and let it cook for 5 minutes. I found this is the perfect amount of time to cook the jam. At least with my stove.
While jam is cooking prep the water in the canner. I basically just filled it with hot water according to the instructions that came with the canner. You'll be processing it in boiling water, not the pressure cooker method. I waited to put it on the stove though until after the jam was cooking.
After you've cooked the jam, fill jars with mixture, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Wipe the rim of the jar and put the lid on. Then put in the canner. I put the jars in the canner as I was filling them.
Once you've got all the jars filled and in the canner, wait for the water to boil. Then, once it boils, process for 10 minutes. I recommend checking the instructions for your actual canner for all of the details on how to can with the boiling water method. Just to make sure you do it correctly.
Once they've boiled for 10 minutes, take the jars off and set them on a towel lined counter to cool. The mixture in the jars will likely be like blueberry soup again so don't worry. (Obviously I did and kept picking up the jars to ask if it would be OK). It will set up again. You'll likely hear a popping sound every once in a while. This freaked me out when I was making the green beans. But don't worry. It's just the jars sealing.
Once they've cooled completely you can take the rims off and test to be sure they're all sealed. I just gave the lids a little tug since turning them upside down doesn't really work.
I found this jam was amazing on biscuits. But obviously it will be amazing on most anything. I can't wait to try it on a grilled PB&J sandwich.
I also made pickles and peppers, but I have yet to taste those. Fingers crossed!