The sweetest victories are often achieved with the help of others, the bitterest, won alone.Dr Maggie B
This is a recipe for blueberry jam. It is also a post about the importance of celebrating victories. However small.
It’s important to celebrate any sweet victory with thanks, with offerings, with passing some of that good energy back to those that supported you. And those who did not. Expressing values like gratitude, reciprocity, and generosity is like sweet nectar for your soul.
Of course, victory can also be bitter. A bitter victory is when your ego ignores your soul’s wishes when shadow values take precedence over your core values. In these instances, the only thing you can do is reflect, learn, and, where possible, make amends.
My blueberry victory was as sweet as honey and involved a great deal of gratitude to the spirits of our neighbourhood.
Thanks to my ongoing war with the axis of evil (birds and rats), I had given up on getting blueberries this year. In previous years, Sheba, our cat, has guarded the blueberry bush and kept attackers at bay. Unfortunately, this year, she spent most of her time on her back dreaming of the rat hunts of her youth. (I take responsibility for my part of this nasty business by putting the netting on too late.)
So we lost the Battle of the Blueberry Bush, and our usual bucket-filled harvest turned into a handful of nothing. But, like my post about Black Doris Plums, the world shifted again, and I was gifted some blueberries by a neighbour who was on holiday and couldn’t enjoy them. “Please take them, or they will go to waste.” Yes, I will do that, yes I will!
This recipe for Blueberry Jam celebrates that victory. Two of the four jars went to my friend on her return. And Sheba, well, she’s still cooling herself in front of the fan. I hope for a little more effort from her next year!
So here’s what you do. . .
- Sort out your jars. Get them washed and in a low heat oven to sterilize and clean the lids. Put two small clean plates into the freezer. (See my post on Plum Jam where I talk about these essential processes a bit more).
2. You need about 500 grams (about a pound) of Blueberries, a little bit less sugar, about 1/4 cup water and a lemon. The sugar amount depends on the sweetness of your tooth, the ripeness of the berries and which direction the wind is blowing. I used 1 1/2 cups of sugar (roughly 400 grams/0.8lb) in this case.
The sugar/pectin/fruit mix is a bit of fine art. Here is a lovely article from Andy Connelly of The Guardian (Oct 3, 2013), “The Science and Magic of Jam-Making” he sets it all out much more nicely than I ever could.
3. Wash the fruit and pick through it mindfully to remove any green fruit you might have grabbed by accident (if you had the joy of picking yourself) and remove the stalks. If you get a stem in there, people may choke, die and sue you, or probably think you are a lazy cook. And in case you are now very neurotic, take your time and enjoy eating a few as you go. You might like to read my blog post on Mindful Tomato Relish.
4. Put the water in the pot and heat it a little. Then add the berries. Cut the lemon in half, squeeze it and then biff it with the berries. Do that with a bit of pizazz and make sure someone is watching so you seem more reckless than you are.
5. Let the berries soften a little on medium heat, stir them around and enjoy watching them turn mushy. Then, when they look nice and soft, slowly add in the sugar. Some people warm the sugar, so it doesn’t lower the heat. I do that when I can be bothered.
5. Then turn up the heat, drop and watch them roll into a boil. Use a Jam thermometer to monitor when the concoction hits around 105 C/220 F, or wing it and try your luck when it drips off the spoon a bit goopy. Please take out your plate and dribble a little on it. After about 15 to 30 secs, if you push your finger on the side, it should wrinkle, and if you pull through the middle, it shouldn’t join back together quickly or at all.
If it isn’t set, lick it off (ideally, again, with someone watching) and then try another plate. Don’t worry too much about froth. I spoon it off at the end or sometimes leave it be. It gives the jam an artistic edge.
6. Take out the jars from the oven and tip your jam into the jars safely. I always use a jug and leave them in their raised tray, or I spill most of it on the bench. In the end, I eat up the dribbles and don’t waste any. (Ok, yes, it’s gross now.)
Crank on the lid, and if they are sealed well, you should hear the tops popping over the next hour or so.
And there you go. You can celebrate your jamy victory with hot buttery toast, full-fat ice cream, or freshly baked vegan muffins—your choice. Celebrate!
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