Learning The Art Of Home Canning: Experiment #1 – Blueberry Syrup

 

My dad has always grown a big garden. We moved into our house on the family farm when I was 5. I have many memories of digging potatoes, picking beans and tomatoes and shucking corn. My parents would spend hours every summer canning and freezing much of what my dad had grown and they still do. Since I generally avoided the kitchen as much as possible, I never learned how to can while living at home. Only in the last couple of years have I come to regret that missed opportunity.

I decided that this would be the year I finally learned the art of home canning. I think my family was actually kind of pleased by this decision. My sister even bought me the Ball Blue Book for my birthday to get me started. It’s a great resource with simple instructions that walk you through the canning process. It’s also filled with lots of great recipes.

My dad gave me a ton of blueberries this summer. I love blueberries but figured I had enough that I could do more that eat them alone or in muffins, oatmeal, etc. Blueberry syrup is one of my favorite treats. It’s also somewhat expensive and so I rarely ever buy it. There was a recipe for it in the Ball Blue Book that seemed pretty simple so I decided to give it a try as my first canning experiment.

The recipe said it would make 3 pint size jars and I figured that would be enough for me for the next year. Naturally I had a few issues in my first go at canning. It’s a learning process, right? There was boiled over blueberry syrup all over my stove, blueberry juice all over my kitchen, forgotten ingredients and a crisis phone call to my sister for help but in the end I had two beautiful jars of perfectly sealed blueberry syrup for my efforts.

My next attempt will be a simple grape jelly. I’m hoping it will be as simple as it sounds. But knowing my track record in the kitchen……well, we’ll see.

Of course, I couldn’t let you go without sharing the Blueberry Syrup recipe. Enjoy!

Blueberry Syrup
2 quarts blueberries
6 cups water, divided
1 T. grated lemon peel
3 cups sugar
2 T lemon juice

Wash blueberries, drain. Crush blueberries. Combine blueberries, 2 cups water and lemon peel in medium saucepan. Simmer 5 minutes. Strain through a damp jelly bag or several layers of cheesecloth. Combine sugar and 4 cups water in a medium saucepan; boil to 230 degrees(adjust for altitude). Add blueberry juice to sugar syrup. Boil 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Ladle hot syrup into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

Note: Fruit syrup in typically thin. If a thicker syrup is desired, combine 1 cup syrup and 1T. cornstarch in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until syrup thickens. Don’t add the cornstarch before canning.

Boiling-Water Processing Tips *

1)Fill water-bath canner half-full or more with water and bring to 180 degrees. Position canner rack over the water.

2) Prepare recipe, fill jars, adjust caps.

3) Place jars on canner rack and lower into water. Water must cover the top of lids by 1 to two inches. Add more hot/boiling water if needed.

4) Place lid on canner. Bring to a rolling boil and maintain for entire processing time. Set timer.

5) After processing is done, turn off heat and let cool for 5 minutes before removing jars.

6) Place jars on cutting board or towel to cool. Leave 1 to two inches of space between jars. Let jars cool for 12 to 24 hours before checking for seal.

7) After cooled, test the seals by pushing down the lid in the center to see if it’s concave, if it doesn’t pop up it’s probably sealed correctly. Then, remove the band and gently lift up on lid with your fingertips. If you cannot lift it off the lid has a good seal.

Canning tips for Blueberry Syrup:

You’ll need a water-bath canner like this one: Columbian Home 0707-1 Granite Ware 21-1/2-Quart Steel/Porcelain Water-Bath Canner with Rack. I found one at Walmart.

A Ball Utensil Set will also be very handy.

Your canning jars need to be hot before you put your syrup in so I ran mine through the dishwasher as I started gathering everything I needed to make the syrup and left them in the dishwasher until I needed them.

Make sure you have a good thermometer to check the temperature of water & syrup.

Start water in canner and  heat to and hold at 180 degrees until needed.

Lids with sealing compound must be heated for 10 minutes before using to help achieve a vacuum seal. Place in small pan, cover with water and heat to 180 degrees. Hold at 180 degrees until you need them. Do not boil these.

* These are just basic intructions. I highly recommend the Ball Blue Book if you’re new to canning.

This post linked to: What’s On Your Plate?

Janet is a mom to two daughters and is married to her best friend. Her belief that we are blessed so that we may bless others fuels her writing at frugalandfocused.com where she shares her thoughts on faith, family, and frugal living. She strives to make the most of what she's given in life and hopes to inspire others to do the same.