Thursday, August 11, 2011

Black and Blue Jam (with Buttermilk Biscuits)

Before I begin telling you about the jam I made, let me fill you in on some exciting news.  As you know from reading the blog I use a boiling water bath canner on a frequent basis and have been doing so for several years.  This summer in particular I have become a little more (okay, a lot more) obsessed with "putting food up".  This is not so that I will be prepared in case of a natural or man-made disaster, it is because I enjoy eating things I prepare and knowing where our food is coming from is important to me.  Not to mention, it is pretty darn fun!  Anyway, tomorrow I am going to be delving even more deeply into this subject as I take a class on pressure canning.  I am so excited!  My wonderful hubby purchased the class for me for my birthday a couple of months ago (some of you may think that is a bad gift but I think it is fabulous), and now it is here.  In preparation, I got on Amazon last night and ordered a pressure canner because I know that as soon as that class ends tomorrow, I am going to be anxious to get my hands dirty.  So stay tuned as I learn to pressure can in the near future and share my experiences with you. 

Now, for today's jam.  This summer I have been playing around with blueberry jam.  I made a great recipe for blueberry lemon honey jam found in the Tart and Sweet cookbook.  It was very good, but I wanted something a little different.  I decided to try a spiced jam with blueberries and blackberries since that is what I had on hand in the refrigerator.  The jam turned out beautifully.  It is just the right amount of sweet berry goodness with slight undertones of cinnamon and ginger.  It is also a classic jam in that it contains no added pectin.  Instead the jam is cooked down until it reduces and thickens to a jam consistency.  It does take a little longer, but produces a much deeper flavored jam that I really love.  Oh, and I don't want to forget to tell you that I made crusty buttermilk biscuits to go along with the jam (which ended up being my lunch).  Yum!

Leftover jam in an old Ball jar

The jam begins with blueberries, blackberries, sugar, and honey which you bring to a boil.  This mixture will simmer anywhere from 20-40 minutes depending on the amount of liquid in your fruit and the humidity outside.  If you live in the hot, humid south like me it will probably take longer than 20 minutes to get the consistency you want.  When making a classic jam like this, there are several ways to test for gel.  The easiest is to place a plate in the freezer at the beginning of your jam making session.  After cooking the jam 20 minutes, put a little dollop on the plate and put it back in the freezer.  If, after a couple of minutes, you can push the jam with your finger and it wrinkles up a little and holds its shape, it is ready (this is around 220 degrees).  

Jam in my copper jam pot ready to go into jars

Once it is ready, ladle it into jars to be processed.  You could use 8 oz jars, but I used 4 oz jelly jars because I love how cute they are.  I only had 7 jars so I put the rest in an old mason jar to store in the refrigerator.  If I had put it all in jelly jars it would have made 10 jars of jam (which is about 5 cups total).  

I spooned a little of the jam I did not process onto a hot buttermilk biscuit for lunch and promptly devoured it, and I plan to do the same thing tomorrow morning for breakfast with the leftovers.  I also think this jam would be great heated up and spooned over pancakes in place of syrup or in mini tart shells as tiny berry pies (how cute would that be?).  

Now for the recipes. 

Black and Blue Jam with Cinnamon and Ginger
makes approximately ten 4 oz jars or five 8 oz jars

5 cups blueberries
4 cups blackberries
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup honey
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Place berries, sugar, honey, and spices in a preserving pan or nonreactive pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Simmer the mixture, stirring freqently to prevent scorching, for approximately 20 minutes.  At this point, begin testing for gel by placing a dollop of jam on a chilled plate and putting it in the freezer.  If the mixture holds its shape and wrinkles up when pushed with a finger, it is ready.  If not, continue cooking until it reaches that state which may take up to 40 minutes.  Be very careful not to allow the jam to stick to the bottom of the pan as it thickens. 

Once a proper consistency has been reached, ladle the jam into jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Wipe the rims and top with sterilized lids and rings.  Process jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Allow jars to sit five minutes after processing time and then remove them to a towel to rest for 24 hours. 

Crusty Buttermilk Biscuits- makes 15 3-inch biscuits

I have to begin by saying that this recipe comes from a book titled The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock. It is a wonderful book with great southern recipes.  These biscuits are crusty on the outside and tender on the inside, but they do not rise as much as some biscuit recipes.  They are not low fat so if you are scared of lard, stay away from these.  My motto is "everything in moderation". This recipe and many other southern baking recipes call for a brand of flour called White Lily.  It is a flour which is lower in gluten and protein and produces a more tender product.  If you can't find White Lily, try Martha White, or use regular flour.

5 cups sifted all-purpose flour (preferably White Lily brand) 
1 tbsp plus 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 cup chilled lard
1 1/4 buttermilk
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Put dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine.  Add the lard and rub it with your fingers to incorporate it into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Add buttermilk and mix just until blended.  Place dough on a floured surface and roll to 1/2 inch thickness.  Prick dough every 1/2 inch with a fork. Cut it in circles using a 2 to 3 inch biscuit cutter (do not twist the cutter when you press down).  Place biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet so that they are just touching.  Bake 10-12 minutes until browned on top.  Remove from oven and brush with melted butter.  Serve hot.    




  1. Your biscuits look gorgeous. I love blackberry jam so much, but I've never made it.

    I hope your pressure canning class is fun and informative! I'd like to try pressure canning sometime, but I'm slightly afraid!

  2. Lauren,

    Thanks for following along. I hope you are enjoying the site. The jam was very easy to make. You should definitely try it sometime. As for the pressure canning, the class actually made it look a lot easier and far less scary than I had imagined it to be. I am excited to do some vegetable soup soon to see how it goes.