Saturday, August 22, 2009

Something Old, Something Blue

I realize it may be premature for me to write about blueberries a week before I leave for a camping extravaganza in Maine, home of the best blueberries I've ever had to date (I'm remembering my first venture with pie crust in college, a wibbly-wobble-fantastic lattice top over a Maine blueberry filling)...but as I've had blue on the mind I think I'm going to go ahead and talk blueberries right now.

Historically it hasn't always been a love affair between me and blueberries. While I do remember picking sour little berries from a bush that grew wild in my childhood backyard, even then it was more the thrill of eating something off a branch than it was the flavor of the berry. A current fan, searching for an explanation as to why I've so long ignored blueberries, I think the answer is I just needed time. Strawberries are so sweet and beautiful, raspberries alluring and tartly distracting. I believe the truth is that each summer I've been inching towards blueberries but it hasn't been until just these past few months where I've finally been ready to sit down and have a one on one with the little blues.

A fresh, soft and bright pint of blueberries is a wonder I'm newly excited about. As you may remember I'm also newly excited this summer about jam. I look at fruit stands in the Greenmarkets around town and think, "Oo! Strawberry jam. Oh, raspberry jam. YES! blueberry jam!!" I know summer is an especially hot time of year to commit to standing in front of the stove top constantly stirring sugar and fruit as it cooks down. But it is also the ideal time to find ingredients for the best jams. So with a little sweat, and a big love for jam, I recently tied my hair back and set to the burners to whip up a batch with some market-fresh blueberries.

For something different I replaced a third of the sugar with light brown sugar. The result was a slightly warmer flavor but let's be real; it's really about the fruit and the fruit surely made itself known. Turning brilliant purple, and growing incredibly thick from the pectin in the berries, the finished product was truly mouthwatering; a proper challenge to strawberries and raspberries worldwide.

And just the thing to top off a dinner party cheesecake (a recipe you may remember from the winter, but summer-spiffed-up here with 1 tablespoon orange zest and about a teaspoon of cinnamon).

The result was a blue-finger lickin' good cake! The natural sweetness of the berries, brown-sugar enhanced over the slightly tart and warmly spiced cake is a combination I am excited to pass along to your own kitchens and dinner parties alike. And sure, you could use any berry you'd like and the recipe would work and be delicious. But with, well, I suppose a bit of a crush on blueberries at this point, I'm giddy to put them in the spotlight here.

So to long time blue fans, and young blueberry lovers, this jam is for you.

Brown Sugar Blueberry Jam

360 grams blueberries
100 grams brown sugar
150 grams granulated sugar

125 grams blueberries

125 grams blueberries

1. Over medium-high heat, let a medium sized sauce pan warm up, empty.
2. Once the pot is hot, add the first amount of blueberries and both sugars.
3. Cook, stirring constantly (with a heat-resistant spatula), until the blueberries cook down to a thick, jam like consistency. As it get thicker, the sugar will want to start caramelizing; if you see it turning brown on the bottom of the pot, take the pan off the heat, stir some more, and then throw it back on. Make sure you stir constantly! Use the spatula to scrape the bottom and the edges around the pan.
4. Once the blueberries are thick and you can almost smell them caramelizing, add the second amount of berries.
5. Stir until blueberries soften, and mixture returns to a boil.
6. Add the last measure, stirring for just a minute or two, until the mixture returns to a boil again.
7. Let cool in a heat resistant bowl...the jam will be really hot when it comes out of the pot!
8. Once cool, refrigerate (or eat).

Yield: a little over half a quart

*for the cheesecake recipe, go here. Do everything the same (though I'd use a regular graham crust rather than the pretzel version), and at the end add 1 tablespoon orange zest and 1 teaspoon cinnamon to combine.


Anonymous said...

I also have a crush on those lovely blueberries! And they are also a super food!

Soup Sista said...


オテモヤン said...
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