Thu, 18 July, 2019
Homemade blueberry jam with a hint of rosemary fragrance and a dash of balsamic vinegar makes such a sophisticated combination it should be elevated to being called confiture or preserve instead of the common ‘jam’.
What is the perfect scent to complement blueberries?
You might say blueberries don’t need any companions as their flavour is supreme and I would wholly agree – anything blueberry and everything blueberry is a winner in my books. But in terms of fragrance, perhaps not so much: delicious as they are, they don’t quite waft sensuously like strawberries or perfume the air, when slightly warmed up, like raspberries. So with all due respect, I’m off to find a match for the little purplies.
There is vanilla but that’s boring. Lavender seems to be the thing and I am tempted, looking out of my window at the row of wavy blue that I manicure meticulously every autumn and bees are grateful for that every summer. But no – that would be purple and purple and I’m convinced a clash of colours makes a harmony of taste. Think caprese.
So around the garden I walk, with a fistful of blueberries to sniff, picking odds and bits of plants – NOT rhododendron, stupid. Mint is wrong, thyme is too strong and finally a sprig of rosemary answers my call. That is the perfect combination.
And it is – one large sprig in a pound of fruit makes a difference, subtle but striking. I love this jam – not only the smell makes me stand there over the pan all the time it cooks, but blueberries also obligingly jammify in not much more than 20 minutes unlike strawberries, the alleged jam princesses, that I had to re-jam on occasion when they decided to become sauce.
Blueberries are frightfully expensive so unless you get lucky at your local market or actually grow the berries, a small batch is all you can make at a time. Which is fine – this is not the stuff to slather over common toast every morning. It is more refined and wants a refined application: a lightly toasted brioche, an exquisitely made crêpe or a really posh cream tea with homemade fluffy scones.
blueberry jamServings: makes 2 x ½ pound jarsTime: 50 minutes
- 500g blueberries
- 350g jamming sugar
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp cold unsalted butter
1. Pick the blueberries but do not wash them. Place them in a large pot with the sugar, lemon juice and rosemary and give it a stir.
2. Place the pot over low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, so the sugar dissolves before the fruit starts simmering. When it does, bring it to a rapid boil and cook for 25 minutes. You can do a test: spoon a drop of jam on a saucer chilled in the freezer and check if the consistency is thick enough.
3. Preheat the oven to very low, 80-100C, and place clean jars and lids in it to sterilise them, together with a jam funnel if using one. Take the jam off the heat, fish out the rosemary sprig and stir in the balsamic vinegar and the butter – butter gets rid of the foam and clarifies the jam. Let it sit in the pot for 15 minutes.
4. Place the jars on a tea towel or cloth and fill with the jam. Close with lids and leave to cool completely.
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