Nothing tastes more like summer than homemade blueberry jam. With big berry flavor and a hint of cardamom, this farm fresh, small batch, blueberry jam is just the ticket! This recipe uses the pectin naturally occurring in the berries to thicken the jam. It also calls for a fraction of the sugar found in most store bought blueberry jam. The result is a thick, chunky jam that tastes less like sugar and more like blueberries. Enjoy it on biscuits, stirred into yogurt, or as a tasty ice cream topping.
Thank you Oregon Blueberry Growers for sponsoring today’s post. To learn more, check out their website at Oregon Blueberries.
One of the best summertime activities here in Oregon is visiting a U-pick farm and collecting bushels of your favorite blueberries at their peak ripeness. Great for all ages, it makes a lovely family outing or a fun solo escape.
If you are like me, the only problem is that you may end up with too many berries! While it’s great to freeze some for enjoying over the winter months, my favorite thing to do with extra blueberries is to turn them into homemade blueberry jam.
Making large batches of jam can be a time consuming project, calling for lots of little jars and canning expertise. Small batch jam, on the other hand, has all the benefits without the drawbacks.
This recipe makes about half a pint of jam and can be scaled for your needs. Refrigerate it for a week or freeze it for up to three months. It’s an excellent way to use up extra blueberries without ending up with too much jam or sacrificing that fresh blueberry flavor.
Here in Oregon, we grow the best berries and our Oregon blueberries are no exception. Being one of the nations top producers of this super fruit, there is a good chance you are able to find Oregon blueberries in a store near you. Oregon Blueberries provides some pretty great resources on growing your own berries, storage and caring for blueberries, and of course more blueberry recipes. For all of that and more head over to their website at Oregon Blueberries.
If you live here locally or if you are coming to visit the great state of Oregon this summer, I highly recommend you make time to check out one of our U-pick farms. Oregon Blueberries provides an updated U-pick blueberry farm list, which is the best resource for finding farms that are open to the public.
You can search by county to find farms in your area. From there you can see who is open for business, their operating hours, and what varieties of blueberries they offer. Great for blueberry lovers of all ages, you can make a day of it or make it a family tradition every summer. Now, on to the jam!
Making Small Batch Blueberry Jam
Like all jam, there are three necessary ingredients for small batch jam: fruit, sugar, acid. In this recipe we use blueberries, granulated sugar, and lemon juice, with the addition of the optional spice cardamom. Each of these ingredients is important in the chemistry of getting your jam to set.
The sugar combines with the water to help create the syrupy consistency, while the heat helps to release the naturally occurring pectin which is activated by the acid. From there we want as much water as possible to evaporate to help concentrate and thicken the jam. Want more of the science behind jam making? Serious Eats Jam Making 101 has you covered.
Selecting the Best Blueberries for Jam
The best blueberries for jam making will include mainly ripe (but not overripe) Oregon blueberries, with a handful of under ripe blueberries thrown in. As blueberries ripen, their naturally occurring pectin, which helps the jam to thicken, begins to dissolve. Using all ripe or overripe berries, will make it very difficult for your jam to set up without the use of added thickeners like derived pectin, agar agar, or cornstarch.
Don’t have access to fresh Oregon blueberries? Check the freezer section! Frozen blueberries work just fine, but it will take a little more time. Starting with thawed berries will speed that process up, but the jam will need to cook slightly longer than the recipe directs in order for it to thicken.
Can I Omit the Sugar?
In a word: No. The sugar has a job here beyond just sweetening the jam. If you omit it all together, you won’t actually have jam. One of the main reasons I prefer homemade jam is because I don’t like the blueberry flavored sugar that often passes for jam at the grocery store. Creating this recipe based on my personal preference, it does have less sugar than most store bought jam, but the sugar that is included is necessary for both texture and flavor.
If you do choose to reduce the sugar further, be aware that it could make it difficult for your jam to set up properly. What you can do is swap the granulated sugar for other types of sugar like brown sugar, raw sugar, or honey. I have not, nor do I intend, to test this recipe with artificial sweeteners, but if you try it and it works, please let me know!
Cooking the Jam
Start cooking the jam on a medium temperature. Since we are starting with chopped blueberries, their naturally occurring juices help the sugar to dissolve faster. Bring the fruit to a boil, then drop the temperature to a medium low so that the jam simmers.
As the fruit begins to cook, avoid stirring it too much. Stirring lowers the temperature and increase the amount of time it takes to cook down the jam. Stir occasionally to make sure the jam isn’t sticking or burning. If it does, lower the heat. As it cooks, the jam may begin to foam on the top. While this foam isn’t bad, it can make your jam appear cloudy. Simply skim it off the top and discard it.
As the foaming subsides, the jam should take on a dark, glossy appearance. At this point, begin to stir more often and watch for the jam to set. You’ll know it’s ready if you can draw a line down the middle of your pan with the spoon and the jam takes a moment to slide back in place. Also, check how thickly it coats the back of a spoon.
Tips and Tricks for Small Batch Blueberry Jam
- Use a wide shallow pot. It increases the surface area and allows water to evaporate more quickly.
- After you wash the fresh berries, let them dry completely before chopping.
- To quickly chop your blueberries with less mess, toss them into a blender or food processor and pulse a few times to break them up.
- Do not use overripe fruit for making jam. In fact, adding in a handful of under ripe blueberries will help the jam to thicken.
- The cardamom adds a subtle layer of extra flavor, but it is optional. You can also try substituting with ground cinnamon or ground ginger if you prefer.
Recommended Kitchen Tools
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Small Batch Blueberry Jam Recipe
Small batch blueberry jam is an ideal way to use up surplus farm fresh Oregon blueberries. Whether you grow your own, found a great sale at the store, or picked them yourself at a U-Pick farm, this small batch blueberry jam recipe will bring out their best flavor and is versatile enough to enjoy all season long.
As written, the recipe makes one and a half cups jam and can be easily doubled. Enjoy your jam slathered on homemade biscuits, serve it on your next cheese and charcuterie board, or use it as a filling for homemade blueberry pastries with rough puff pastry. For more tasty summer delights, check out my summer recipe collection.
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- 1 1/2 lbs blueberries (about 4 - 5 cups)
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 TBSP lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- Pulse blueberries in a blender to roughly chop.
- Add berries, sugar, lemon juice, and cardamom to a wide, shallow pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
- As mixture boils down, it will foam up and reduce. Stir occasionally to ensure it's not sticking. If it does stick, reduce the heat.
- Once the foam begins to subside, begin to stir constantly. Jam will darken in color and take on a thick, syrupy consistency. It's done when it coats the back of a spoon and you can draw a line down the center of the pan that takes a moment to refill.
- Allow jam to cool 5 - 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a clean glass jar or storage container. Cool the jam at room temperature for about 90 minutes before refrigerating. Chill 6 - 8 hours to thicken completely.
Works with either fresh or frozen blueberries.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 2 TBSP
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 76 Total Fat: 0g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 1mg Carbohydrates: 20g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 17g Protein: 0g