Pass the Pectin: Homemade Blueberry Preserves
Pectin is a natural thickening agent found in many fruits. When making jams or jellies, it’s the stuff that makes jelly jell. It is commercially available in powdered or liquid form and is commonly used in home canning. Although it resides naturally in fruits like apples, citrus peels and strawberries, the amount present can be unpredictable. Packaged pectin takes the guesswork out of the equation and reduces (sometimes dramatically) the cook time necessary to thicken preserves.
Blueberries are one of those fruits in which the pectin content is sufficient to allow it to stand up on its own when processing preserves. It does take a little longer without the aid of those handy Certo or Sure-Jell packages, but the conditions required in using those commercial additives are somewhat restrictive. The amount of sugar in those recipes is non-negotiable and there is less flexibility in consistency. Also, I find something very satisfying in producing such a delicious spread without the crutch of commercial products. Perhaps it’s the homesteader in me. I don’t always work without store-bought pectin, but this simple recipe works so well I’m happy to spend a little longer stirring the pot.
5 cups blueberries
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Combine blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a large, heavy pot and bring to a boil.
Continue to boil, stirring frequently, until preserves thicken and jell (15-20 minutes).
Remove from heat and ladle into canning jars, leaving ¼” head space.
Cap with lids and bands.
Process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath to seal.