Few foods are as much fun to make as blueberry jam. From the plunking of the berries hitting the bucket while you pick them to the pop of the lid after the jars have finished processing. Each step of the process is more satisfying than the one before. Perhaps the best part (and I’m sure that Sam, Aunt Katydid’s middle child, would agree) is the smashing of the berries.
We decided to make a small batch with the kids so they could learn the ins and outs of canning jam. Our recipe called for 2 cups of mashed blueberries, four cups of sugar, two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, and a package of liquid pectin (which I advise using if your helpers are plentiful and all under the age of twelve). Not that you should listen to me or anything.
I also advise setting the ingredients out ahead of time because by the time you have measured everything out — the kids have scattered all over your property and have chased the chickens up a tree or disemboweled your car. Just remember that I warned you.
If you have several youngsters involved in your canning project, have them sort the blueberries and pull out the little stems. Keep in mind that you should double check their finished product even if you have an excellent dental plan. No one likes to chip a tooth on blueberry hedge bits.
Bring the mashed blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice to a boil and add the pectin. Wait until your mixture returns to a boil. Let boil for a full minute and remove from heat. Thank your sweet stirrers for helping during all that. Now to fill the jars! (That’s Willy, Aunt Katydid’s oldest young ‘un filling jars like a pro.)
More jar filling by Sam (Aunt Katydid’s middle child, remember?). Sam, by the way, is wearing a bathing suit. I just thought I would let you know. We have a pool and the kids were just about to get in it. Anyway, after placing lids and rings on their little jars of blueberry jam, we processed the jars in a boiling water canner for ten minutes (enough time for people to change into swimwear). And we were off to the pool to cool off!
Have you ever attempted canning with children present? What did you make? Do you have any advice because I am about to embark on doing this sort of thing with three or four children on a fairly regular basis and I am VERY open to suggestions.
Read about picking the blueberries in Friendship Harvest: Blueberries and Tranquility