Wild Blueberry Maple Jam / Preserve / Syrup

I love the philosophies of jam.  By ‘philosophies’ I refer to the hard-line rules (perhaps they are as rigid as ethics) that each of us have around what makes a great jam.  Many prioritize the consistency or set of a jam while others may emphasize taste or texture.

Wild Blueberry Maple Jam / Preserve / Syrup Preserving Recipes Maple Syrup Blueberry

I am less conventional.  I am perfectly willing to deal with runny jam that borders on syrup in favour of flavor.  For those interested in why, there’s 3 previous pieces that summarize my stance pretty well here:

  • Guided by a Sense of Terroir (and not terror)
    The concept of Terroir within cooking really hit home with me in 2010.  Although I had been using the concept of cooking from my local pallete and what is available around me, my efforts in changing my style of cooking to reflect the area I live have dramatically increased since then.  I feel like I am chasing Terroir and joining the conversation that is happening around our area to define “What is local cuisine?”  This is especially fascinating to me in a city as multicultural as Toronto.
  • What Have I got Against Pectin?
    My initial thoughts on why I avoid commercial pectin and an easy experiment for those of you who use it.
  • More Thoughts on Avoiding Pectin
    I’m not an avid anti-pectin person but I did want to share more of my thoughts about it.  :).

All of that is a very long way to say that this jam can be runny.  It’s relatively low sugar, doesn’t have added pectin and adds maple syrup.  All of that generally leads to a very, very loose set – but something that really tastes of its ingredients, of the area and isn’t overtly sweet.  This tastes like it’s core ingredients – wild blueberries and maple syrup.

This is a great ingredient for baking, pancakes, ice cream, smoothies or, my favourite use, as a cheese topping for goat cheese (chevre).  It’s mad-good with cheese.

Ingredients

  • 6 Cups Blueberries
  • 3 Cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/3 Cup Bottled Lemon Juice (use the bottled stuff to be sure of the acidity).

Note: you could get a tighter set by not using maple syrup and using 2 cups of brown sugar and 2 cups of maple sugar.

Instructions

Yield: 4-5 1-cup jars.

  1. Place berries in a wide pan.
  2. Crush berries with a potato masher.
  3. Add lemon, sugar and syrup, stir well.
  4. Let rest for an hour.
  5. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Stir frequently until jam is set – about 20 minutes after it starts boiling.
  6. Skim foam, pour into sterilized 1-cup (half-pint or 250 ml) jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

This is a magical taste of late summer and something I just simply adore.

EDIT (Feb 27, 2012): Have you made this and are looking for an amazing way to eat it?  Try incorporating it into our fluffly lemon curd; it’s stunning.

Comments

  1. Love the photo Joel!

  2. Think there’s a snafulet in those directions. “Note: you could get a tighter set by not using maple syrup and using 2 cups of brown sugar and 2 cups of maple sugar.” Four cups brown sugar, perhaps?

    And I’m with you on the no-pectin front.

    • Hi Reno,

      I may have done a poor job of explaining it – sometimes text is so difficult. :) As I read it there’s no snafulet (though I love the term).

      The recipe currently reads:
      6 Cups Blueberries
      3 Cups Brown Sugar
      1 Cup Maple Syrup
      1/3 Cup Bottled Lemon Juice (use the bottled stuff to be sure of the acidity).

      And I am insuiting that you could get a firmer set by changing it to:
      6 Cups Blueberries
      2 Cups Brown Sugar
      2 Cups Maple Sugar
      1/3 Cup Bottled Lemon Juice (use the bottled stuff to be sure of the acidity).

      Maple Sugar is rare, expensive and delightful. It is, essentially, maple syrup that is continued to cook down until there’s no liquid left – it looks like brown sugar, tastes like maple syrup. The work to reduce it is massive but it is one of the few sources of local sugar that one can get up here – having said that it is equally difficult to find as it is expensive.

      Does that make any more sense?

  3. Oh my goodness! I was done with my jams for the year, but this might be an amazing use for the wild blueberries I bought up north yesterday!

    • Laughing, Jen I’m very bad for inspiring “just one more batch…” :) If you make it, let us know – it’s ridiculously good and it’s just unbeleivable with cheese. :)

      • So two years after you posted this recipe and I saved it I finally made it and cannot believe I waited this long. I made a half batch because that’s how many blueberries and I added a lemon that I sliced thinly and cut each slice into half moons (inspired by the strawberry lemon preserves from Liana Krisoff’s Canning for new Generation). It’s delicious! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe.

        • Hi Jen!

          Glad you made it and liked it – awesome addition of the lemon slices too! They are so pretty, aren’t they!?! Have to make more of this soon! :)

          J

  4. Kate @ Snowflake Kitchen says:

    Yum! Sounds divine. I’ve been with you on the looser set these days as well.

  5. If I wanted a firmer set for jam, can I add pectin?

    • Michelle, I’m sure you could and know a lot of people do with Pomono’s pectin which I beleive has instructions. I’m afraid I can’t be of much use knowing the amounts, quantity or safey as I just haven’t done it before.. Sorry I’m not much more help than that. :)

  6. Mmmmm, that sounds lovely. I already have two types of blueberry jam though. Unless I find time to go foraging for wild Maine blueberries before the season is over…..

  7. Sounds like a perfect combination. I tried to make Strawberry jam with maple syrup last year. It turned out more like syrup and didn’t last as long as jam but IT WAS yummy.

  8. while this looks amazing, it’s still pretty high-sugar. I read that you are avoiding pectin due to the fact that it then requires more sugar, but if you use Pomona pectin you can really cut it back and still get a nice set. I have been doing 4:1, 5:1, even 6:1 fruit:sugar with Pomona and it comes out great, though the jam has a shorter fridge life.

    • Lora,

      Those are some AWESOME tips and great reccomendations – and love the ratios which I beleive will be most helpful for all.

      Ultimately the role of sugar is to extend shelf life. For us, that’s critical. We live with about 700 jars and many are eaten between 1-2 years. Knowing that this is something that I will not eat in a year, that’s a bit of a balancing act.

      I’m going to have to try a round of Pomonoa’s and extended shelf life and see what happens. :) Thanks for sharing – much appreciated!

      Joel

      • Joel,

        I don’t know if you’ve done your Pomona’s experiment yet, but I thought I’d chime in.

        Pomona’s is my preferred pectin for two reasons. One is, as Lora pointed out, you can use significantly less sugar and/or alternative sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or agave. Second is that I often prefer a looser set than what you get with “regular” boxed pectin, and with Pomona’s you can adjust the set to your preference. Obviously, you could do something similar by just cooking the fruit down, but for many things I prefer the fresher, brighter flavors that I can achieve when I don’t have to cook the fruit as long.

        I do have a tip for using Pomona’s. The directions that come with it say to mix the powdered pectin with the sweetener you are using and then add it all at once to your hot fruit/juice, bring back to a boil and immediately jar and process. The problem I have with this is that I then have to guess at how much sugar I want, which is entirely dependent on what I’m making and the fruit I’m using. Instead, what I do is mix the pectin powder with 1/4-1/2 cup sugar and then add the rest of the sugar/sweetener to the fruit from the beginning. This way I can taste it and adjust the sweetness before adding the pectin.

        As far as shelf life, sugar acts both as a preservative and as an agent to set the color of your fruit. The preservative part is really only an issue once you open the jar. I have sealed jars that are well over two years old and are perfectly fine. You will notice some color loss if you keep things for a longer time, but as long as it is still sealed and otherwise looks and smells good the product is still safe to eat and tastes yummy. It is only after you open a jar that it doesn’t last so long as full-sugar preserves. I tend to can jams/jellies/preserves in 1/2 pint jars anyway, so we go through each jar more quickly.

        Hope that is helpful!

  9. I had to make it last night as soon as I saw the post. Thank you! I tried your maple sugar substitution as I was looking for a firmer set. To give some boost to the pectin, I added in 1/2 cup of red currants and some grated lemon zest. Neither are strong enough to impart much flavor but the result was definitely not runny.

    The maple and wild blueberry combination is awesome. Had a little tasting just now. Thank you for a marvelous recipe!

    • Awesome Dessert – funny I almost did the exact same thing (currants) – was so tempted. They ended up becoming bitters instead but good to hear how it turned out! There’s some great tips from Lora about addin pomono pectin as well that you may find useful below. :)

  10. I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t like pectin. I learned canning and preserving from my grandmother who NEVER ever used the stuff. My partner always insists we need some thickening agent, sometimes gelatin, GAG. Trying to convince him we just need to cook it longer and slower.
    My mother used to put apples in a lot of her preserved foods to thicken, now I get it!

  11. Two friends and I are going to try this recipe out when our blueberries arrive in a week. we have local maple syrup as well. I was reading the comments, and what are your thoughts on reducing the sugar? or is the amount of sugar been tried and true? thanks.

    • Hi Kristin,

      I’ve made it this way for 4 years and am very happy with it – and though it’s sweet I’m much more a savoury guy. Perhaps a lot of it is how I use it – to balance with cheese and savoury pancakes.

      I’m also not opposed to change nor do I think I’m the expert on all jammy things. :) It would be safe to reduce the sugar, but shelf-life would likely be lowered. For us, shelf life is critical (many of my jars aren’t consumed in the first year, some considerably longer). I am certainly not opposed to lowering sugar.

      We received a link from someone this week that used it as a topping for cheesecake – it looks pretty devine. I beleive they used as-is. Here’s the link:
      http://thebackyardfarmwiferecipes.blogspot.com/2011/08/maple-brown-sugar-blueberry-cheesecake.html

      Ultimately, there’s no real right or wrong here – don’t mess with the lemon though. :)

  12. Since I’m in the heart of wild blueberry country, you know I’m all over this. That and the 4L of maple syrup I buy in the spring, for *this* very reason. Two of Canada’s finest ingredients.

    Just about to put my order through for 20 lbs of wild blueberries and then I’ll give it a whirl. I’m pumped.

  13. Joel – Thanks. After consulting with my canning women, we are sticking with your recipe. Will report back on our results. Kristin

  14. I made this this week– delicious! I think it will make a great pancake topping this winter. I may do another batch when I get my next box of berries….

  15. Skip the bought pectin. Try to put the blueberries thru the meat grinder. I read about it in a old recipe book and tried it. Blueberries will release a lot of natural pectin and one has to work very hard to bring these minced blueberries to a homogeneous and smooth jam – it will ones they are hot. the resulting jam has a very firm set.

    • I’m with you on avoiding commercial pectin LW! I haven’t tried to reduce it like that though – very interesting; will have to try that. :) J

  16. I made this a couple of years ago and used it for this recipe. Now I’m doing it again this year. Thanks! http://thebackyardfarmwiferecipes.blogspot.com/2011/08/maple-brown-sugar-blueberry-cheesecake.html

  17. I just finished making 4 batches of this amazing recipe and wanted to thank you profusely for the inspiring post! I increased the maple syrup to 2 cups (this was a fantastic sugaring year in Quebec and I bought 540 ml cans of organic syrup for under 7 bucks!) I reduced the sugar to 2 cups. Need to run out for good ice cream tomorrow to have it on! Thanks again!

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