Monday, May 7, 2012

It started when Randy's brother, Cody (aka Uncle Buck), sent him some messages on Facebook – he wanted to make jam. There were two recipes he wanted to try: spiced blueberry and apple. I was all for it, although I will admit to some hesitation when I realized the two of them would make the jam while I was at work.

Boys in the kitchen. Unsupervised. With alcohol. And boiling sugar. Yikes!

On the other hand, jam is pretty easy and foolproof. Also, it worked out well for us in that Cody was providing everything but the jars and the pectin. Randy was providing the “experience” and the kitchen.

Needless to say, I left work as quickly as possible that day so I could see how they did/assess the damage. When I got home, they were working on the second batch – the blueberry spice. Their commentary went something like this:

Cody: Ok, now we add the sugar and boil for five minutes
Randy: Huh. I added sugar a long time ago.
Cody: Oh. Uh...then I guess we add the stuff and call it good?

I'm pretty sure that was how the first batch went as well; wasn't there for most of it, as I said, but they took pictures, so I'll provide a pictorial essay.
First step: set up the all-important directions.  Use your wife's laptop in case  of industrial accidents...

Get the canning kettle going. Uncle Buck demonstrates how to use a lid!

Put some sugar and other spices in a pot.
Chop up some apples.  Be sure to have all the ingredients out on the counter
Are you two sure you used a big enough pot?  That's a lot of apples.
The toddler was right - pot upgrade initiated!

Apple jam in the jars and ready to seal - looking pretty good.
Hot.  HOT!  Someone should have used a potholder...
ANOTHER batch? Are you sure?
Start over, measuring out the blueberries
Every surface of the kitchen was covered in jam-making paraphernalia, and Zoey was on a huge sugar high, since her Uncle Buck kept feeding her cookies, but it all turned out well - each batch made six or seven jars, and they all sealed well.
I like it when Uncle Buck comes over!  Cookies for everyone!

The end result was pretty tasty, although the blueberry jam has anise in it, which I'm not a huge fan of (I have a lifetime supply, though, because Cody left his jar here and he only used a little of it!)

1.2 kilo apples
1 kilo sugar
1 packet of pectin
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1 Big bowl of water with the juice of 1 lemon squeezed into it.

*Quarter the apples, peel and core them, then chuck every apple quarter into the bowl with water and lemon juice.  (This will keep the apples white/ green/ yellow (so they don't get brown and horrible )).
*Once you have cored and peeled and quartered all the apples , stage 2 is getting all the apple quarters thinly sliced, then in thinly cubed.Think 1 x 1 mm !
*Chuck the tiny cubes all in the big pan, add the sugar, the of pectin ( don't breathe in, it will make you cough ) the vanilla sugar, and the cinnamon.
*Stir the whole thing through- ( this can be a bit heavy going ) till you have a thick gloop.
* Put it on a medium heat and cook for at least half an hour, stirring frequently.  Don't go and do something else and leave it bubbling away.
*Test if the apple is "done " ( = soft )- this can take quite a bit of time.( so say make it at least 40 minutes).
*WHILE waiting for the apples to cook: Let the jars you intend to use for your jam run through a dishwasher cycle, till they are clean and warm, or clean them with boiling water.  Put the lids in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Turn off the heat, and let lids sit in the water.
*Fill your canning kettle 3/4 with water and bring to a boil
*Fill the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headroom
*Wipe the rims clean, then put on a lid, screwing the ring on tightly
*Fully submerge in the boiling water for approximately 10 minutes.  
*Remove and let cool - you will hear a popping sound as the lids seal.

Spiced Blueberry Jam from this instructable
1 1/2 lbs . Blueberries (fresh or frozen)
3 cups Sugar
1/2 cup Water
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
5 Tablespoons (2 1/2 oz) Cider Vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Star Anise (finely ground)
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
10 - 20 grinds fresh Nutmeg (1/4 teaspoon pre-ground)
1 Packet of Pectin

*Run all jars through a cycle of the dishwasher or boil for 10 minutes.  Put the lids in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, then turn off heat, leaving lids in pan.
*You need to grind up the spices, especially the star anise. Put them in the coffee grinder until finely ground.
*Place blueberries in the saucepan over medium-low heat. Sprinkle with the pectin, followed by the cider vinegar, spice mixture, and lemon juice.
*Once liquid starts to gather in the bottom of the saucepan, bring the heat up to high, and bring to a boil.
*After reaching a boil, lower the heat slightly and boil gently for 5 minutes, mashing it occasionally.
*Mash in the sugar, and add the water. Return to a boil for 1 minute. 
*Fill your stockpot 3/4 of the way full with water, and put your dish towel/canning rack into the bottom.  Bring to a boil.
*Fill jars, leaving 1/2" head room.  With a clean towel, wipe any spills from the rim
*Place the lids on the jars, screwing the rings on as tightly as you can.
*Place jars into stockpot and boil for approximately 10 minutes. 
*Remove jars and put on a towel or rack on the counter to cool.  You will hear a pop as each jar seals.

Next week's post will probably be on Parker's birth and mostly include a zillion baby pictures.  If it's not...well, he's late to the show!


  1. Baby still has clothes! And a blankey!

    1. Yep - although this was only two days after she got her. So far so good on the clothes front - she's even changed into her dress. We'll see how long it lasts.

      Also, I'm amused that this is the detail you focused on ;-)