My husband, Jeremiah, had a wonderful mother. She was the center of his world and he adored her. You could say he’s a “momma’s boy”, he wouldn’t deny it or take offense. In fact, he would hold the title with pride, as he holds her on a pedestal. No one has influenced him quite like his mom. She taught him how to love, she taught him the importance of family, she taught him to follow his heart. She made him feel as though he was the center of her world, too, even though he was one of five children. His mother made him the man he is and he was lucky to have her. And he knows it. Her name was Susan and she is no longer with us. I wish I had had the chance to meet her.
I’m grateful to Susan everyday for creating my “momma’s boy” of a husband. Because of her, Jeremiah is a wonderful partner, father, and friend. The way he loved and adored his mom is the way he loves and adores me. He respects women and mothers, he understands the work it takes to raise children well, and he changes diapers without gagging. Thank you Susan.
It breaks Jeremiah’s heart everyday his mom isn’t here to see his sons grow up. She would be so proud, not only of the man Jeremiah has become, but of the father he is to his boys.
Even though Susan passed before I came into Jeremiah’s life she influences me as well. She raised an amazing man. I’m currently raising three amazing mini-men. I want my boys to look back on their childhoods with same warm memories, fondness, and love as Jeremiah does. I want to be a mom they’re thankful to have.
Jeremiah shares Susan’s memory often; different talents she had, funny anecdotes, things she loved to cook. One memory has stood out for me, perhaps because when he speaks of it he smiles. She made jam from scratch.
I’ve never known anyone to make jam from scratch. But being that it’s something Susan did, and it makes my husband happy, I’m determined to keep the memory alive. I’m hoping it will be a memory my boys enjoy as well. After all, not many kids have toast with homemade jam in the morning.
Making jam will be my jam. Today, it’s blueberry jam.
Full disclosure, this was my first experience making jam. I actually made my jam way too thick and it slightly resembles tar. I let it boil too long. Therefore this post is more about the journey than the destination. It’s not as easy as it sounds, you need to pay close attention to get the consistency right. But it’s fun and rewarding, especially if you make as many peanut butter and jam sandwiches as I do.
I chose blueberry because it’s my favorite. I love the flavor and the vibrant color. I would have chosen Huckleberry, given it’s a mountain berry, but I wasn’t able to find any locally. You can choose any fruit you like. I plan on experimenting with many. Next will be apricot.
With three basic ingredients, blueberries, sugar, and lemon, this jam is simple and natural. It can also be used for other treats, depending on the consistency you're after. If you boil it for less time it can be a delicious blueberry sauce over ice cream or lemon cake. You could make it thicker for a pie. It could even be a filling for a homemade pop tart...that's going to happen here sooner or later. Watching the blueberries develop that beautiful deep purple color while cooking was giving me all kinds of ideas.
I let the boys smash up the berries with their fingers, clean hands of course. Involving them makes the memories more meaningful.
The trick is to let the berries and sugar simmer for the right amount of time. That's the mistake I made. I let it go too long causing too much water to evaporate. My jam tastes amazing, my boys love it, it's just a little gummy. So if you make the same mistake, don't be too hard on yourself. People will eat your jam, trust me.
While simmering, you need to babysit a bit and stir often. Check with a spoon to see how the mixture is coating. It should be thick enough to leave layer over the spoon. It'll set more when it's cooled.
As I become more experienced I'll make larger batches. There's a process to sterilize your jars to prevent molding and increase shelf life. I didn't bother with this today because I made a small amount, only one jar worth, and it's already halfway gone. If you'd like to make more or to give as gifts click here for instructions on how to prepare your jars. As I mentioned before, I'm on a jam journey. I plan to make more next time around and store the jars properly.
I'm surprised it's taken me so long to make my own jam. It's always been something I've bought off a shelf. I may never buy it again. Homemade jam tastes amazing; so fresh and natural. And knowing it doesn't contain preservatives and was made in my kitchen makes it even more delightful.
Thank you, again, Susan. For creating my husband, and for encouraging new skills.
Homemade Blueberry Jam
Makes about 2 cups
- 3 pints fresh blueberries, rinsed and picked through
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- juice from half a lemon (I added a lemon peel for some extra tang, optional)
- Preheat your oven to 225°F and place an empty jar inside. Heating the jar prevents it from breaking as you pour the jam inside.
- In a medium pot add the blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice.
- Smash the blueberries, still leaving some intact, with your fingers or a potato masher.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce the heat to medium low and the let the mixture simmer. Stir often to prevent the bottom from burning.
- Check the thickness with a spoon. If the spoon is nicely coated then your jam is finished. If it's runny allow it to simmer longer.
- Remove the jar from the oven, remember it's hot, and carefully pour your jam inside. Allow to cool at room temperature. Seal with a lid and refrigerate till ready to use.
* Baker's Note: I did not go through the process of sterilizing my jar as I made a small batch. For instructions on sterilizing jars for storage click here.