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Monday, 4 March 2013

step by step : blueberry and apple jam


This blueberry and apple jam is sweet, but if you prefer you can make it less so by using cooking apples instead of eating apples.  Whatever apples you have are fine ~ bruises and all.  A bit shrivelled  and kind of soft from sitting in the fruit bowl for too long ~ still fine for this. Blueberries can also be of the left~a~bit~too~long~and~gone~a~little~soggy variety ~ it will still taste great.  If you've been storing them in the fridge, try and remember to take them out and let them warm to room temperature before you start the jam ~ that way the juicy flavours mix better!  The quantities given will make four or five ordinary jam jar size jars.

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It's important to properly prepare the jars you plan to fill with jam ~ find out how.  The jar prep needs to be started before the jam bit does, so if you're not sure, please take a look!  If you've been there and done that already, fantastic ~ on to the jam!

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500g fresh blueberries
500g eating apples (or cooking apples if you have a slightly less sweet tooth)
800g granulated sugar
1 sachet of pectin (look in the supermarket with the sugar, or try the cooking or baking aisle)

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Wash your blueberries, picking off any tiny stalks that you happen to notice, but don't spend hours doing this ~ you honestly won't notice them in the final product.

Core and peel the apples, or if you don't have a corer then peel each apple, slice it top to bottom into quarters (or eighths if you feel the need) and use a sharp knife to cut the hard core piece out of each slice.

Put your blueberries in your biggest saucepan or stockpot, and gently squash them with a potato masher (or a wooden spoon or something similar).  The aim is not to flatten them, getting all the insides to the outside; it is to just split the skin to allow the yummy juices out.  This is not the time to imagine the fruit as your worst enemy or anything like that.  No, really, the blueberries are your friends, okay?

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Find your cheese grater, and if you have a range of grating choices, decide which surface you'll use.  Personally I'd avoid the zesty type ones, as you will end up with a very very mushy pile of shredded apple, but hey, horses for courses, right?  Grate the apple, trying not to add any bits of finger into the mix.

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Throw the shredded apple, sugar and pectin into the stock pot, give it a bit of a stir, and turn on the heat ~ not too high, just choose a medium heat ~ a three on my hob (out of six), if that helps.  It's not an exact science, so don't get your knickers in a knot about the details.  If all else fails, you'll have some delicious handmade artisan blueberry and apple compote to spoon over ice~cream; or mix in with yoghurt for a breakfast; or eat with a pancake.

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Stir the pan gently with a wooden spoon, and everything will start getting a bit more juicy in there as the sugar starts to dissolve into the blueberry juice and soggy apple.


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With your wooden spoon gently squish any whole blueberries you spot in there.  You'll notice the liquid will be turning a deeper colour ~ continue stirring slowly to keep the flavours blending into each other, making sure you prevent any fruit or sugar sticking to the bottom of the pan.

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Turn the heat up a little (I put mine from three to four out of six), and carry on stirring for a couple of minutes.  If the mixture keeps bubbling up vigorously as you stir (take a peek at the photo below) then start timing (you want this bubbling to go on for eight minutes) and continue to stir.
If it isn't bubbling like this yet (take a look at the photo) turn the heat up a little more until it does, then time for eight minutes, still stirring to stop the jam from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.





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After eight minutes remove the pan from the heat so it doesn't overcook, and sit down for a moment to take a breath and admire your jam ~ don't try it yet though as it will be really hot and you'll burn your tongue!

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Once you've put your feet up for ten minutes, wander back into the kitchen and set up for the next bit ~ getting the jam into the jars.  Be careful with the hot jam ~ sounds obvious, but keep in mind it will stay very hot for quite a while.  Once the jars are full, screw the lids on tightly ~ if you're using or reusing jars with metal lids you should find that within a couple of hours the button~thingie (technical term) has un~popped (yep, that's another one) ~ this tells you it has sealed properly, and is now airtight ~ you can store these jars in the clich├ęd cool dark place for up to a year.  If the button~thingie hasn't been sucked back in, gently press it in with your finger ~ it may well stay in, in which case it can be stored and kept as above.  If the button~thingie still doesn't stay in, it is not sealed properly ~ don't panic, everything will be fine!  Just store any jars like this in the fridge from the beginning, and use them first, but they will still keep for three or four weeks according to official health and safety lore, but three or four months according to mine!

Enjoy your jam!


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