This little experiment for the June Can Jam was one of the only times that I’ve taken a spoonful of preserves and thought, “By God! I’ve got it!” This is a mixture of blueberries, apricots, lemons, and walnuts, and it’s just about perfect. It’s a “conserve” rather than a “jam” or a “marmalade” in that it has more than one kind of fruit in it (“con-“) and that the texture is more of a preserve than a jam (soft with little pieces of fruit in it). Like most of my jams, this one doesn’t have pectin in it, so the texture may vary. At first I thought I had merely created sauce, but within a few hours it started to set. At this point it’s still loose, but definitely firm enough to eat on a cracker. When you eat it, the first taste is blueberries, pure and simple, but it leaves a wonderful lemon sensation in your mouth. You can’t really taste the apricots per se, except that it’s sort of floral. You’ll just have to try it for yourself and see.
I used individually quick frozen blueberries because I still had a couple of bags in the freezer from last year and have yet to make it over to New Jersey to pick this year’s batch. No changes if you’re using fresh.
Finally, about the nuts. Nuts are a low acid food, but the blueberries and lemons are acidic enough to make this safe. I based on this a published recipe that I have now misplaced. I don’t remember the specifics except that it included raisins, more nuts, and probably more sugar. I’m therefore very confident that this is fine for water bath canning, nuts and all. If you want to be on the safe side, give it another 5 minutes in the water bath.
Blueberry Pucker Conserve
6 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
4 cups sugar
3/4 c coarsely chopped walnuts
About 12 dried apricots, chopped
1) Slice your lemons as thin as possible, removing any seeds, like this:
Now run your knife across them a couple of times to make strips. If you’d like, you could remove the pulp from the peel and trim out the pith, but I never bother (and besides, the pith provides needed pectin).
2) Toss everything in a pot, stir, and turn on medium heat. Add just a splash or two of water to make thing moist, then stir gently until the blueberries start to break down, the sugar melts, and you have a sauce, like so:
3) Bring the blueberry mix to a boil and cook rapidly to the gelling point, approximately 20 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on it—it will foam.
4) Transfer the hot conserve to the hot jars and adjust two-piece lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Want one? Leave a comment by Sunday, July 4, at noon.