Run, don’t walk to your nearest blueberry patch and make this jam while blues are still in season. This one is classic Nischan: pure blueberry flavor, accented with the tang of lemon, and just enough sweetness to off-set the surprise heat of jalapeno and habanero peppers. So good that this is my second batch in as many weeks and I’m contemplating a third. Worth firing up the canner on a 90-degree, 99% humidity July Sunday – it’s that good.
Adapted (barely) from Blueberry, Lemon and Chile Pepper Jam in Homegrown:Pure and Simple by Michel Nischan
Blueberry, Lemon & Chile Jam
- 7 cups blueberries, divided, rinsed & stemmed (fresh or frozen)
- 2 cups raw sugar (organic turbinado)
- 2 medium lemons (preferably organic)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 small green jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped to yield 2 tbsp minced (fresh or frozen)
- 1/2 small orange habanero pepper, seeded and chopped to yield 1/2 tsp minced (fresh or frozen)
- scant 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- Combine 6 cups of blueberries and sugar in a large stockpot. Mix to coat berries and allow to macerate while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Zest the lemons with a sharp vegetable peeler (taking care to remove only the yellow and not the white, bitter pith) and then cut the strips into a fine julienne. You should yield a generous 1/4 cup of zest (add more zest from another lemon if necessary). Juice the lemons, straining out seeds & pulp (about 1/2 cup juice), and add jucie & zest to the blueberries, stirring well.
- Toast the cinnamon stick, either by holding with tongs over an open flame, or in a dry, heated skillet, for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant and darkened.
- With a potato masher, mash the blueberries until mixture is soupy and berries are well mashed. Add cinnamon stick, chile peppers, and salt. Mix well and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until jam is thickened and begins to spit when you stir it, about 45 minutes (about 218 degrees F).
- Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars and lids.
- Add remaining 1 cup of blueberries and chopped cilantro. Taste and adjust flavors; remove cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 to 2 minutes (to allow berries to heat through). Remove from heat and fill hot, sterilized jars to 1/4-inch headspace; wipe rims, affix lids and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.
Yields about 4 cups.
- I made minimal changes to the original recipe: Nischan called for 2 and 1/4 cups sugar, only 6 cups blueberries (he did not add any whole berries at the end) and he did not add lemon juice. Other than that, my recipe is the same as his and it is truly exceptional.
- Because of the long, slow cooking method, this is one of those jam recipes that I suspect you could safely double (Update: yes, you can. Use your widest pot or a large skillet with a splatter screen). Nischan claimed a yield of 10 half-pints: I don’t know how that is possible considering I followed the recipe almost exactly (even added more blueberries) and yielded 4 half-pints (my yield with a double batch was exactly 8 half-pints).
Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year (although Nischan specifies a 6-month storage time). Refrigerated, should last at least 1 month.
Blueberries are in season in summer, but with frozen berries you can make this jam year round.