My childhood friend Helen has been visiting this week. What cracks me up about Helen is that once, long ago, in a galaxy far, far, away, she could not cook to save her life. My how times have changed. In her adult life, my friend Helen is an award winning, jam and jelly making DIVA. She has won so many prizes in the New Mexico State Fair she’s lost count and had to build an annex onto her Albuquerque digs just to hold all of her awards. This is Helen’s award winning Blueberry Lemon Zest Jam – which won first prize at the New Mexico State Fair in 2007.
Blueberry Lemon Zest Jam (makes about seven 8-oz jars)
- 2 tablespoons of julienned lemon peel, chopped (see photo for reference)
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup sugar
- 4 cups blueberries, crushed
- 4 cups sugar, measured EXACTLY
- 1 package, commercial pectin (we used Sure Jell)
Place empty jam jars in dishwasher. Run the dishwasher and leave the clean jars in the dishwasher until you need them.
Place the jam lids and rings in a medium pan on the stove and bring to a boil. Leave the lids and rings in the pan until you need them.
Put two small plates in the freezer. You’ll use them in a bit. Ignore them for now. Put a canner on the stove. Put in the rack. Fill with water to 1-2 inches over the height of the jars you are using. Bring to a boil and then turn off.
Place lemon peel, ¼ cup water and ¼ cup sugar in small saucepan and simmer for five minutes over medium heat until the peel is soft. Strain the peel. Toss the sugar water (preferably not AT anyone) and keep the peel.
Add the cooked peel to the crushed blueberries. Place crushed blueberries, lemon peel and pectin into a heavy pan (I use a medium-sized Dutch Oven). Stir. Carefully measure the sugar.
Bring the fruit and pectin to a full rolling boil. Once it reaches full rolling boil, add the sugar. Bring back to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Turn off heat.
Pull one of the small plates out of the freezer. Put a drop of cooked jam on the plate. Check to see if the jam has jelled. It will literally look like jelly if it is done. If it has jelled you are ready to fill your jars. If it hasn’t jelled, turn the heat back on and boil one more minute.
To fill your jars successfully I recommend using a funnel. Place it in your jar. Pour in the hot jam until you reach ½ inch from the rim of the jar. You cannot get jam on the rim. If you do, the jar won’t seal and your jam won’t keep and you’ll be terribly sad. Using a sterile device (like a canner magnet) pull the lids and rings out of the hot water bath. Put on your lid and ring. Tighten. Place filled jars in the hot water bath and boil them for exactly five minutes. Remove from hot water bath and set on counter to cool. You should hear the lids pop as they seal.