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July is National Blueberry Month! Time to break out the Ball canning jars and start hunting for the best market price.

We love blueberries and I practically hoard them in the freezer. I’ve made jam, jelly, conserve, syrup and even juice! There once was a time when my son wanted nothing but blueberry muffins in his lunchbox. So when the sale flyers come out, I head to my local market.

BBon sconeThis season, I experimented with jam and conserve.  I tried a couple of batches and after a few failures, came up with an interesting and tasty conserve. My inspiration came from two sources: an ice cream recipe that called for cardamom and a bag of Tea Forte brand tea that billed as “blueberry-merlot.”  So I got to thinking: could I come up with a blueberry preserve with this flavor combination that had a depth of flavor?

I did a little reading.  The Fine Cooking website has a nice article written by Shirley Corriher on getting fruits to gel. Blueberries can be tough to work with as they contain little natural pectin and low acid—two factors that are required for gelling jellies. So…  What do I use for pectin and how much?  Then there is the question of acid.  Lemon juice seems a natural, but I was looking for a flavor that was not as bright and more complex. I didn’t have a bottle of Merlot around so I thought: balsamic vinegar!  That did the trick.

Here is the recipe.  You may have to fiddle with it depending on the type of blueberry, ripeness and its “terroir” (region).  Enjoy!

Blueberry Conserve

Place 6 pints blueberries in large (6 qt or larger) Dutch oven or nonreactive pot. Crush with a potato masherBlueberries
Add 6 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

Measure out 3 Cups sugar and set aside.
Measure out 1/3 Cup sugar in separate bowl. To this, add 1.5 packages of Sure-Jell Low Sugar powdered pectin (pink box). Mix until blended and slowly add to blueberries, stirring so that no lumps form.

To the blueberry mixture, add the peel of 1 lemon, yellow part only, no pith.
Measure out 2 grams of cardamom seeds and tie in a bouquet garni. I placed the seeds in a paper “Tea-Sac” and tied with kitchen twine. You may find that cheese cloth is more handy. Be sure to use triple layers as the seeds may escape into your berries! You will fish the peel and the seeds out of the mixture before packing in bottles.

Let the blueberry mix “rest” for 20 minutes. Then stir in the sugar.

Bring mixture to a rolling boil. Remove cardamom packet and lemon peel.

Add 4 additional pints of blueberries. Stir gently and bring to 2nd boil. Reduce heat.

Pack in hot jars and process in water bath for 5 minutes.

*Note:  You may find that you have an excess amount of syrupy mix left in the pot after the jars are packed. I found that this makes a delicious pancake syrup or a special addition to your favorite lemonade. Bottle it up and give to friends! I found some attractive bottles at Sur La Table.BBSyrup

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