Sunday, 31 July 2011

Making blueberry jam

After the terrible terror attack on Oslo and the simply evil massacre on Utøya that happened Friday before last, and after days of intense television viewing and web surfing for news that could make sense of it all, we felt a strong need to get out and get some fresh air. The only thing that has torn us away from the news this last week was Monday's march for peace. It was good to be a part of it, and experience the amazing commitment and solidarity that people showed - to see the presence of caring and concern and the absence of hatred and vengeance. The way our small country has handled this crises, makes me proud to be Norwegian.
And that's all I will say about that here.

Today we turned off the TV. Instead we decided to get out in the garden and pick the plump and tempting blueberries that are growing in our back yard. When one has such a fantastic natural resource in the garden, it would be a shame not to take advantage of it, don’t you think? Especially this year, when the garden is positively bursting with berries.

Picking berries is therapeutic work. You get peace of mind sitting there on your little stool, listening to the birds singing and the sheep bleating in the woods. Also, it is so gratifying to see the bucket filling up slowly but steadily. Well, truth to be told, it wasn’t all peace and quiet the whole time. Husfruen became just a tad agitated, not to mention ever so slightly foul-mouthed, when our dog made one of his kangaroo jumps into the bucket and sent the berries flying in all directions.

The poor startled dog didn’t mean any harm, so he was forgiven. He loves blueberries and was allowed to eat everything he could find on the ground. His tongue became as blue as my fingers.

We had more than enough berries in the end anyway. We ended up with three kilos and it was quite a job to clean them all. 

Hubby had to dig out the largest pan we had to fit them all in.

Before we could start making jam, we had to wash the jars and sterilise them in the oven.

Twenty minutes on 100 degrees C in a tray of boiling water did the trick.

Hubby thought that Husfruen did a Nigella here, showing a lot of cleavage. Well, at least I didn’t lick the spoon, the way she always does. ;-)

The berries must boil for a few minutes, and then the mixture must be skimmed.

Since we have no competition for our berries, we let them hang until they are really ripe and sweet. Then you do not need very much sugar. Here I used about 750 grams of sugar to three kilos of berries.
Once you've added the sugar, the jam becomes shiny and lovely, and then it’s done.

To ensure maximum shelf life, the jam must be filled into piping hot jars straight away. They should be filled to the top, so that there is as little air as possible. It is certainly an advantage if you do not make such a terrible mess as I do, but if you too are clumsy with the ladle, it pays to let the jars stand in the tray with hot water. That way you do not risk spilling on the kitchen counter. Blueberries are terrible for staining dishcloths and countertops, so it's better to be safe than sorry.

The jars should be turned upside down until completely cooled. Four jars will be put on the shelf in the pantry, to be enjoyed throughout the winter when the demand for summery vitamins and antioxidants is high. But one jar will be consumed within a few days.
By the way, the jam jar is Opus from Rosendahl, a series I have taken quite a fancy to. The lid fits real close, yet is easy and convenient. It looks good too.

Of course, we didn’t have the patience to wait until the jam was cool before we tasted it. Ooh, yummy!

For supper we had pancakes with jam. What else?

The jam jars still standing on the bench cooling, bring fond memories of make jams and preserves in my grandmother’s kitchen. Somehow, they make me feel like an old-fashioned housewife. It’s nice. I'm pretty happy with myself and the day's work, so now I have some inspiration to pick all the delicious wild raspberries growing along the roadside here. And then it's high time to harvest red currants. They will become delicious juice. The gooseberry bush I’m not so sure about though. I really don’t quite know what to do with it. What are those berries used for? Does anyone have suggestions?

Come back tomorrow for some very berry recipes.

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