We had a jam dilemma a couple of weeks ago and I set to making blueberry jam from frozen blueberries. I had to use frozen since fresh blueberries are not in season nor are they locally grown. Today I’m sharing with you my amazing recipe that is sure to please!
The process and the recipe I’m going to share with you are SUPER easy and the jam is so delicious! Normally, I like to keep our canned fruit spread cupboard stocked. But here we are, almost done with March and my family has run through every last jar of bing cherry jam, strawberry jam, grape jelly, & raspberry jelly that I made the past few years.
Now the funny thing is that we still have some spreads left, but our heavy jam consumers, (Zander and Mark) are not heavy consumers of peach jam, rhubarb jam, or monkey butter jam that I still have stocked. Those of us “normal” consumers will enjoy those jams over the next few years but these guys…they have turned to the grocery store.
And with that, a few weeks ago, I noticed Bonne Maman Wild Blueberry Preserves started showing up in our grocery cart again.
Jam, Jelly, Preserves, Conserves, Marmalade, Fruit Butters – What’s the Difference?
I mentioned the Bonne Maman Wild Blueberry Preserves. You may be wondering, what the heck is a preserve?? Or maybe you are wondering what the difference is between all the various fruit spreads. For these definitions and distinctions, I turned to my trusty Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving…
- Preserves – A soft spread in with the fruit is preserved with sugar so it retains its shape and is transparent, shiny, tender, and plump. The syrup varies from the thickness of honey to that of soft jelly. A true preserve does not hold its shape when spooned from the jar.
- Conserves – a soft spread similar to jam, made with a combination of two or more fruits, along with nuts and/or raisins. If nuts are used, they are added during the last five minutes of cooking.
- Jam – A soft spread made by combining crushed or chopped fruits with sugar and cooing to form a gel. Commercial pectin may or may not be added. Jam can be made with a single fruit or with a combination of fruit. They should be firm but spreadable. Jams do not hold the shape of the jar.
- Jelly – A soft spread made by combining the fruit juice or acidified vegetable juice with sugar and cooking to form a gel. Commercial pectin may or may not be added.
- Marmalade – a soft spread that contains pieces of citrus fruit and peels evenly suspended in transparent jelly. Marmalade is cooked in small batches and brought to, or almost to, the gelling point. Marmalades are similar instructure to jam.
- Fruit Butters – a soft spread made by slowly cooking fruit pulp and sugar to a consistency thick enough to mount on a spoon and spread easily. Spices may be added.
In my view, it’s ridiculous to buy Bonne Maman since I know how to make jam. So I bought a huge bag of frozen wild blueberries and pectin. I’m telling you my bag of frozen wild blueberries produced a jam that is just as good (if not better) than Bonne Maman’s!
Order or Preference for Preserving
- Grow It
- Use Fresh
- Buy Local
- Buy in Bulk
- Use Frozen
I don’t know if you all know it, but blueberries simply do NOT grow in the Black Hills of South Dakota. This was a HUGE bummer to me. When we lived here over 10 years ago, I ordered a bunch of blueberry plants from Stark Bros. (awesome selection by the way!) planted them, and watched them die. I’ve asked gardeners and posted this question on our local gardening page. The answers have all been unanimous. Blueberries do not grow here. C’est la vie
Frozen vs Fresh Blueberries in Jam
As you can see from my preference list, fresh is always best. Given the fact that our region is not conducive to growing blueberries, we generally get only fresh berries in little containers. Not a great option for making jams.
But let me explain the differences in using fresh or frozen with my recipe.
- Fresh – No adjustment is needed for my jam if you are using fresh berries. However, you will want to be sure to use firm, ripe fruit. If you are busy harvesting and don’t have time to preserve, it’s better to freeze your berries at their peak ripeness and make them into jam later.
- Frozen – You’ll want to measure your frozen blueberries and place them in a medium saucepan to thaw. Definitely do NOT drain the liquid as you’ll need that for your jam. Depending on whether your fruit is overripe or not, your jam may be slightly runny. Cook your jam to your preference setting.
How to Test for Jam Setting Point
You may want to follow all the methods below. It is a great idea to have a clip-on thermometer on your saucepan so you can watch for when it’s time to test for setting. You can also watch for how the boiling changes…
- Temperature – 220° F (104° C) at sea level. Be sure to subtract 2° F for every 1000 feet above sea level where you are located. Turn off your head and take your saucepan off the burner when your mixture almost reaches the desired temperature for jam setting since the mixture will continue to rise in temperature rapidly and may gel too thick.
- Boiling Bubble Change – boiling will change from a rolling boil to ploppy. Now is a great time to do a plate or spoon test.
- Plate Test – remove the saucepan from heat and drop a spoonful of jam on a plate. Place the plate in the freezer for a few minutes. Remove and tip plate and look for flappy skin as the jam moves.
- Spoon Test – dip a cold spoon (from the freezer) into the boiling jam mixture and lift so syrup runs off. You can tell that your jam is if it forms a sheet and slides off the spoon.
And I believe a purist might accuse my jam of being a preserve.
Regardless, it is oh so delicious! Alright, I think we’re ready to get to the recipe.
Blueberry Jam from Frozen Blueberries
- 4 ½ cups blueberries, frozen thaw
- 3 tbsp. lemon juice bottled
- 4½ cups sugar
- 1 tsp. butter optional
- 5 tbsp. powdered pectin
- Prepare canner, jars, and lids, (if water bath canning)
- In a large saucepan, combine frozen blueberries, lemon juice, sugar, and butter.
- Over high heat, stirring constantly. If desired you may blend the mixture slightly with a stick or immersion blender.
- Bring to a full rolling boil.
- Mix in the pectin and boil hard for a full minute. See note about testing for gel.
- Remove from heat and skim off the foam.
To Waterbath Can
- Scoop the hot jam into sterilized and hot jars, leaving ¼ inch of headspace.
- Wipe the rim with damp cloth and place lids on top of the jars.
- Screw bands over lids to fingertip tight.
- Place jars in a water bath canner with the water level at least 1 inch over the jars.
- Bring the water to a boil and process for 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and leave the jars in the canner for 5 minutes before removing the jars from the canner.
- Do not disturb the jars for at least 12 hours. Wipe, label, and store jelly.