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We're Jammin' 

My family moved to Vermont last August — just in time for blueberry season. I immediately bought canning supplies and taught myself — and my twins — how to make jam. We canned so much and so successfully that we now receive regular requests for more blueberry jam from friends and family back in California.

I use the recipe inside the box of Sure-Jell fruit pectin: It's easy and makes delicious jam. My kids do the mashing, measuring and stirring. I check all their measurements — if they're off, the jam may not set — and handle all the parts that involve boiling-hot liquids, including pouring hot jam into the jars. Want to host your own jam session? Here's how.

Materials

  • Jam jars, with lids and rings: They cost about $12 per dozen for the 8 ounce size.
  • A large pot: Canning pots with a lift-out wire rack are available at hardware stores, Walmart and many grocery stores. I use a large stockpot — the jars rattle in there, but it works.
  • Berries: Approximately 3 pints of blueberries yield 6 cups of blueberry jam. You can buy berries, but it is so much more fun, and a lot less expensive, to take your kids blueberry picking this month.
  • Pectin: This comes in a powder and can be found in stores with canning supplies. You'll need 6 tablespoons of pectin for 3 pints of blueberries. You can try low-sugar pectin if you want to cut down on the sweet stuff.
  • Timer
  • Sugar: 4 cups for 3 pints of blueberries.

Directions

  • Optional canning tools: a funnel, jar tongs and a magnetic wand to lift sterilized lids out of the water.Instructions
  • Boil the canning jars in the pot to sterilize them while gathering the other ingredients. Place the lids and rings in a shallow dish and pour boiling water over them.
  • When the jars are done, put the berries in the pot and mash them. Combine them with the pectin over medium-high heat and stir constantly.
  • Bring berries and pectin mixture to a full boil and boil for one minute (a full boil is when you're stirring and there are still bubbles). Timing, like measuring, is precise, so use the timer.
  • Stir in the sugar, bring to a boil again and boil while stirring for one minute.
  • Remove from heat and fill the jars with hot jam. Put lids on the jars.
  • Place the sealed jars in a canning pot (tongs and a wire rack make this easier). Pour water on the jars so that they're covered by 1-2 inches.
  • Bring the water to a gentle boil with the lid of the pot on and let the jars sit for 10 minutes.
  • Lift jars out and place them on a towel to cool completely.

Over the next 30 minutes or so you will hear the popping sound of the lids sealing. I get a little excited every time I hear that pop. It's like I am a jamming angel getting my wings over and over again.

Share your fun craft ideas with us! Send them to ideas@kidsvt.com.
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