Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blueberry Vanilla Bean Preserves

This is my first time making preserves to can. I have made it to freeze before though. We had gone berry picking and I no longer have my deep freeze plugged in, so I had to do something. I didn't have pectin and didn't want to go out and get any. I used my candy thermometer instead, after someone posted this link for me from the National Center for Food Preservation. My jam came out perfect, I was so excited, lame, but excited! I used this recipe here from Well Preserved. It is so very good. The blueberries really shine, the dark brown sugar give it depth, and I added a whole split vanilla bean. MMMM. I don't normally eat preserves, but so good. Summer in a jar!
Speaking of summer, we're having a wonderful one. My mom is here. We're sort of moved into a different home. We've taken the girls berry picking, to the splash pad, the gardens, cooked with them, gone to the library, and so much more.
I am packing lunches for us but I haven't taken pictures! I'll be back in the swing of things come the school year!
Do you think we got enough berries?
 Now that I've gotten over my fear of canning (thanks to some wonderful friends, answering my many questions!), I'm going to try tweaking this to use less sugar and still leave out pectin. But if I can't do it without keeping the flavor the same I won't, it's too good! And stay tuned for more jams/preserves/chutneys and more! I'm sure I'll burn out soon ;).  But please try this one! It's so yummy. If you don't want to can the preserves, you can always store them in the fridge and consume them, I'd say within 2 weeks? *I'm going to try this with less sugar next time, it's yummy, but on the sweet side for us.*
I hope you all are having a wonderful summer. What are your plans? What have you been up to?

Blueberry Vanilla Bean Preserves

Makes 4-5 eight ounce jars

6 cups blueberries, washed
2 cups cane sugar
2 cups brown sugar, not packed
1 split vanilla bean
1/3 cup bottled lemon juice

For the preserves.
Put the ingredients in a large pot. I used a 5 qt dutch oven. Lightly bruise the berries with a potato masher, aren't you glad that your utensil set came with one of these? Now it has a use!
Let this mixture sit for an hour.
Heat the mixture on medium heat. Stirring occasionally. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the candy thermometer reaches 210-220 degrees. (Check the link above for the temperature you need for your elevation.)
Ladle into prepared jars leaving 1 inch at the top to allow for expansion, if canning. Discard the vanilla bean. I just left the vanilla bean in the jar we were going to eat right away.

To process for canning.
 Prep your jars, lids, funnel, and ladle, for canning if you plan on canning these preserves. Keep these items in the hot water to stay warm.
Fill each jar with preserves, leaving 1 inch of space for expansion.
Wipe the rims of the jars, place the lids on top. Place the rings on top and close them "finger tight", just barely, leaving room for air to escape.
Return the jars to the stock pot of water. I put a dish towel on the bottom and then place the jars on top. Make sure the jars are covered by one inch of water. Bring the water to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Once the ten minutes are over, turn off the heat. Let the jars sit in the water for five minutes. Remove the jars from the water bath, set them on a dish towel to cool on the counter to room temperature. After they are cooled check to see that the lids are sealed. Dry the rings, screw them on. Label the jars and store in a cool dark place for up to a year.

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