Friday, August 26, 2011

Blueberry Jam & St. Jacobs

A few weeks ago, R and I decided it was time to visit the mothership.

Well, not exactly that* mothership. The mothership I'm talking about is a one hour (in no traffic) drive away, past a shocking number of strip malls.

Giz and I started the weekend off with big plans to go fruit picking in the Niagara region, marketing in St. Jacobs, dinners with the family, preserving, watching Harry Potter (and the list goes on). But, most of those things weren't exactly on R's "to do" list of going to the Hockey Hall of Fame, Wayne Gretsky's restaurant or a Blue Jays game.'s how the compromise played out:

Saturday morning, we left early for the St. Jacobs Farmer's Market. I think we picked the busiest day of the summer, not to mention the heat was well into the 30s (somewhere around 100 Fahrenheit).

Probably the best deal of the day was the strawberries from this place:

Five packages (about 1 lb each) of strawberries for five dollars! Usually, on sale, they're about $2.99 each.

I only wish I had Baba on tape when we told her the next day that they were 5 for $5.

Baba: "5 for $5? No. 1 for $5?"

Giz: "No Baba -- 5 for $5 not 1 for $5"

Baba: "5 for $5?"

Giz: "Yes - 5 for $5"

Baba: "5 for $5?"

Giz: "Yes"

Baba: "Well that's a good deal"

Blueberries happen to be one of my favourite fruits, so we had plans for these guys:

The biggest patty pan squash I have ever seen. They look like they overindulged on a bunch of the these. Who knew that they came in such different sizes.

Apparently, the market is known for its peameal bacon sandwiches.

After about a couple of hours the dogs were DONE. As is, stop for one second and they're laying down in the closest patch of shade, done.

So, we went into the Village to check the stores out and find somewhere to sit in the shade.

Stone Crock Bakery is well-known in the region.

Their butter tarts are delicious!

After a full day, we returned home to chill out and enjoy the "fruits of our labour." Thumbs up for everything, except for the raspberries we bought that were very mostly stale and flavourless.

The next day, R and I went to a Blue Jays game where they retired Roberto Alomar's number and then out to a family dinner.

The next day, Giz and I did some preserving:

No Sugar Blueberry Jam

Makes about 4 to 6 x 250 or 236 ml jars

4 cups (1000 ml) crushed blueberries
1 cup (250 ml) unsweetened fruit juice, (i.e. cranberry, apple, white grape)
1 pkg (49 g) BERNARDIN® No Sugar Needed Fruit Pectin
Sweetener – if using:
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener OR 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) granulated sugar (we used honey)

Place 6 clean 250 or 236 ml mason jars on a rack in a boiling water canner; cover jars with water, and heat to a simmer (180°F/82°C). Set screw bands aside; heat lids in hot water, not boiling (180°F/82°C). Keep jars and lids hot until ready to use.

Wash and crush blueberries, one layer at a time; or pulse small quantities of blueberries in a food processor; do NOT puree! Measure required quantities of blueberries and fruit juice into a large, deep stainless steel saucepan. Whisk in No Sugar Needed Fruit Pectin until dissolved.

Stirring constantly, bring fruit mixture to a boil over high heat. If using, add sweetener (sugar or SPLENDA®) and return mixture to a boil (we did this, but with about 3/4 cup of honey).
Stirring frequently, boil 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Skim foam.

Quickly ladle jam into a hot jar to within 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) of top of jar (headspace). Using nonmetallic utensil, remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if required by adding more jam. Wipe jar rim removing any food residue. Centre hot lid on clean jar rim. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight. Return filled jar to rack in canner ensuring jars are covered by water. Repeat for remaining jam.

When canner is filled, ensure that all jars are covered by at least 1” water. Cover canner and bring water to a full rolling boil before starting to count processing time. At altitudes up to 1000 ft (305 m), process –boil filled jars – 10 minutes.

When processing time is complete, remove canner lid; wait 5 minutes, then remove jars without tilting. Cool upright on a protected work surface; leave undisturbed for 24 hours; DO NOT RETIGHTEN screw bands. After cooling check jar seals. Sealed lids curve downward. Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars. Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired. Label and store jars in a cool, dark place. For best quality, use home canned foods within 1 year.

Giz tells me the jam is delicious and she wants to make more... I can't personally attest to that since I'm determined not to have multiple jars of jam open at one time (and am kind of hoarding all of my preserves).

We also made a strawberry-blueberry jam, inspired by this recipe.

* for those who don't recognize the first picture, it's the CN Tower in downtown Toronto.



That Girl said...

What a fun field trip.

Pickles said...

The St Jacobs market is fabulous - good choice!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

When I was in Ontario I had to visist St Jacons and bring back my fair share of peameal bacon and maple syrip. I loved the drive down Mennonite Road.And yes Baba that is a good de4al:D

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