My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.


Blueberry-Lavender Jam 3

Posted on July 30, 2009 by crankycheryl

At last we got it together to organize a summer playdate with some friends.  Though the weather report on Sunday was threatening something torrential, the skies were clear as the day went on and so we rallied our various troops and headed off Straight from the pick blueberries.

It was a sticky day and we were hot and crabby.  Still, in between refereeing various fights (all involving my children) and stopping for snacks and water refills and bouts of whining, I had a moment or two to appreciate the act of picking itself.

After two grueling strawberry picking sessions, blueberries feel like a gift.  They’re easy to spot and grow in friendly little clusters and are a comfortable height for picking.  If your place to pick is like ours, your kids, when they’re not busy trapping each other inside the hammock that the farmer is nice enough to provide, can run up and down the rows like the wild baboons they are.

And after three hours of that, after reducing my children to plaintive cries of, “home … home,” we went home, and this is what I made the next day, while the boys loudly channeled Cain & Abel as I shrieked, “THESE POTS ARE HOT!  GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN!”  It was a good time.  Well, no, it really wasn’t.  But when I served this on homemade bread for breakfast the next day and all was silent except for the happy little noises they made, sounding like content little nursing babies, it was very nearly worth it.

Blueberry-Lavender Jam
4-5 cups

  • 4 c. berries, rinsed and picked over to remove stems and “squishers,” then mashed
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 c. sugar
  • 3 t. Pomona’s Pectin powder
  • 2 t. calcium water made according to Pomona’s directions
  • 1 flower sprig from fresh organic lavender
  1. To read about canning safety, equipment, and much more, visit Canning Food Recipes.
  2. Make calcium water if you haven’t, according to directions enclosed with pectin.
  3. Wash and rinse jars, and let stand in hot water.  Bring lids and rings to boil, turn down heat, and let stand in hot water.
  4. Put mashed berries into pan with lemon juice.  Add the calcium water and stir well.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine sugar and pectin very thoroughly (a whisk works well).
  6. Place lavender sprig into berries and then bring to a boil.  Add the pectin-sugar mixture.  Stir vigorously 1-2 minutes to dissolve the pectin completely.  You can use a slotted spoon to look through the berries to make sure you don’t have clumps of pectin hanging around, which would prevent setting-up.  Return to boil and remove from heat.  Remove lavender.
  7. Fill jars to 1/4″ of top.  Wipe the rims clean with a clean dish towel or cloth napkin.  Place a lid and a band on top, screwing band on firmly.  Place in boiling water deep enough to cover, and boil for 5 minutes (adding 1 minute for every 1,000 ft. above sea level).  Remove from water.  Let jars cool and listen for the satisfying snapping sound as the lids form a vacuum seal.  Verify the seal by pressing down in the lids’ centers to check that they don’t move.  (If they do move that’s ok, just put the jar in the fridge and use within a couple of weeks.)

Strawberry-Honey Jam 9

Posted on June 15, 2009 by crankycheryl

bread and jelly 002Allow me to start with what is not included in this post:

  • How I brought my children to a hot field on a sunny day with milk in sippy cups, but no water at all.
  • How Z. clung to my leg and whined and pleaded to go home, insisting we hold hands every time I took a step.
  • How I went to pick a week too early, knowing we’d be away for the peak berry-picking weekend, which resulted in twice as much work for half the results.  And a sunburn.
  • The growing awareness of how so many of these allegedly golden, wholesome childhood moments I seem so hellbent on providing are like this.  Sigh.

Regardless, we are completely out of last year’s jam, and I heard that the call had gone out that strawberries were ready.  So off we went to Adam’s Berry Farm in Burlington’s Intervale, at which we can pick our own organic strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.  (For blueberries, I’m also especially fond of Owl’s Head, which has an astonishingly beautiful hillside setting and live music, even if its berries aren’t organic.)

june 007One double bedtime, some serious lolly-gagging, and seven pounds of berry-cleaning later, I was getting ready to can.  Well, truth be told, I was trying to talk myself out of canning because it was 11:00 and I wanted to go to sleep.  But I had washed the berries and couldn’t trust them not to spoil, and there was no way I was letting all that suffering be for naught.

I pulled out the Pomona’s, a citrus pectin that’s activated (i.e., is able to gel your preserves) with the addition of the calcium powder that’s included.  I know some serious jam-makers who don’t like its texture, but I think it makes great stuff.  Plus it doesn’t require a crazy amount of sugar (in fact, you don’t really have to use any), and you can double or triple batches, unlike with many traditional recipes.  Isn’t flexibility nice?

strawberries and chicken 002Strawberry-Honey Jam

About 5 pints

  • 8 cups of strawberries, cleaned, with stems removed, and cut into halves or quarters, depending on how chunky you want the results.
  • 1 cup honey
  • peel from 1/2 organic orange, or 1/2 t. dried
  • 4 t. Pomona’s pectin
  • 4 t. calcium water made from packet included with pectin

Wash and rinse jars, lids and bands.  Some boil everything, and some say this isn’t necessary.  Whichever way you decide to go, do that and then keep in hot water until ready.

Place water in boiling water canner deep enough so that it will cover the jars you’re going to fill once you put them in.

Mix calcium water according to package instructions and set aside.

Put berries, orange peel, and calcium water into stockpot and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Stir pectin into honey.  As berries are approaching a boil, look at the texture and either leave as is, or use a potato masher to smooth out chunks as desired.  When berries are at full boil, vigorously stir honey-pectin mixture in for 1 – 2 minutes, being sure to stir hard enough to dissolve the pectin.  Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.  Remove orange peel if using large pieces.

Fill prepared jars to 1/4″ of top, wipe around the rim with a wet cloth, then place on lids and bands.  Carefully strawberries and chicken 007place jars into boiling water, and boil for 5 minutes.

Place on a rack to cool.  In the next little while you should hear the slight snap of the lids sealing completely, which will let you know that they’re ready to store.  To test the seal, tap on them.  If they move or wiggle at all, just keep in the fridge and use within three weeks.

This jam is delicious.  Like fresh strawberries themselves, bright and sunny and not overly sugary.  My mom (and you know how moms are always the most objective of critics) said it was the best strawberry jam she had ever had.  It may be immodest, but I agree.  What a treat it’ll be if that taste lasts into the depths of winter.  And by then, I’ll have forgotten the rest.

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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