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.
A Homemade Blueberry Jam Recipe
One of my favorite things about summer is the abundance of fresh blueberries! When they are this easy to find, I often find myself with more than I can eat before they go bad. 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 easy blueberry jam recipe makes about half a pint of blueberry jam and can be scaled for your needs. It’s loaded with the flavor of fresh blueberries, and has no added pectin. 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 ever find yourself in Oregon in the summertime, of the best summertime activities 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.
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!
What You’ll Need
Like my small batch strawberry rhubarb jam, there are three necessary ingredients for this blueberry jam: fruit, sugar, acid. Each of these ingredients is important in the chemistry of getting your jam to set.
- Fresh Blueberries – Makes up the bulk of the recipe, contains naturally occuring sugars and pectin. You can also swap for whole frozen blueberries.
- Granulated White Sugar – Contributes sweetness and structure to the recipe. If you reduce or omit, your jam may not set up correctly. This recipe call for less sugar than most store bought jam.
- Lemon Juice – The acid in the lemon juice balances the sweetness and activates the naturally occurring pectin to help your jam thicken and stabilize with a tangy touch.
- Cardamom – The only ingredient not required for the jam to set, it adds a hint of spice and complexity to your jam.
Recommended Kitchen Tools
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- blender or potato masher
- sharp knife
- large cutting board
- measuring cups and spoons
- large shallow saute pan
- silicone spatula or wooden spoon
Making Small Batch Blueberry Jam
This easy blueberry jam isn’t technically baking, but there is definitely some science involved in getting the jam to turn out correctly. The TL/DR version of Jam Making 101: 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.
- Prepare the Blueberries – Wash the berries, pulling out any stems or bad berries. Pulse blueberries in a blender to roughly chop.
- Cook the Jam – 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.
- Thicken the Jam – Once the foam begins to subside, start to stirring 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.
- Cool the Jam – Allow the blueberry jam to cool 5 – 10 minutes in the pan, just enough to make it safe to handle. Transfer the hot jam 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 allow it to set and thicken completely.
Selecting the Best Blueberries for Jam
The best blueberries for jam making will include mainly ripe (but not overripe) 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 blueberries? Check the freezer section! Whole frozen blueberries work just fine, but it 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 blueberry 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!
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 using.
- No blender? You can use a food processor, or a knife to cut the berries in half, or use a potato masher later in the cooking process to help break up the blueberries as they cook.
- Do not use overripe fruit for making jam. In fact, adding in a handful of under ripe blueberries will help the jam to thicken.
- Fresh lemon juice is nice, but bottled lemon juice will do the job just as well.
The best part about making homemade blueberry jam is that you can adjust the flavors based on personal preference or what you have on hand. Here are a few of my favorite swaps.
- Trade out the cardamom. It adds a subtle layer of extra flavor to this blueberry jam, but it is optional. You can try substituting with ground cinnamon or ground ginger or omit it all together.
- Swap the citrus. While the lemon juice is more traditional lime juice can serve the same chemistry purpose while adding a different spin on the flavor.
- Add some zest. If you really like the citrus notes, dial them up a notch with a little bit of lime or lemon zest. A teaspoon should be about right.
- If you are making this jam out of blueberry season, opt for frozen whole blueberries instead. Check the packaging to make sure there is no added sugar and they aren’t packed in syrup.
As written, the recipe makes one and a half cups of blueberry jam and can be easily doubled.
Enjoy your jam slathered on homemade biscuits, serve it on your next cheese and charcuterie board, use it as a filling for homemade blueberry pastries with rough puff pastry, or turn it into a fruit and yogurt parfait with maple hazelnut homemade granola.
How to Store
The combination of cooking alongside the natural preservatives of acid in the lemon juice and sugar means that this delicious blueberry jam can be refrigerated in an airtight container for a weeks or longer, if you can get it to last that long! To increase the storage time, use sterilized jars that have been submerged in boiling water for 30 seconds.
This blueberry jam can also be frozen for up to six months. If freezing in glass jars, I recommend leaving 1/2″ – 1″ of clearance to give the jam room to expand as it freezes. I also recommend letting the jam freeze with the lid off to prevent the jar from cracking. You can place the lids on after 6 – 8 hours to lock in the flavor.
The only way to make this jam shelf stable is to use proper canning procedures.
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- 1 1/2 pounds blueberries (about 4 - 5 cups)
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon 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: 76Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 1gSugar: 17gProtein: 0g