Eight years ago I made my first spiced blueberry jam with black pepper. I love a little sprinkle of cracked pepper on my toast—why not add it to my jam? Since then, I’ve spicing up all my jams. However, instead of using any ol’ spice that tickles my fancy, I now choose spices based on the season and their heating or cooling energy. It’s important I try to balance my foods to promote balance within. Besides, I can buy plain jam anywhere. Why not spice it up and brighten it up with fun flavor combinations and some aromatherapy—ahhhhhhh, pass the lavender rose jam, please!
Ayur-wisdom: Blueberries are sweet and slightly sour in tastes. They have a heating nature like most berries, and when condensed into a jam they become heavier. Their heating nature is balanced by adding cooling and pungent spices like, lavender and rose. In balancing foods this way, helps prevent dis-ease, like bloating, which comes from too much cold or acid-reflex, which stems from too much heat. Lavender, a digestive aide, also helps to lighten the heavy nature of jam since it is a carminative herb. It prevents stagnation in the gut, that often occurs from having a slow metabolism or eating heavy foods. Another great reason to spice it up! Digestion is key.
Learnings: fruit from the farmer’s market fruit requires a lot less sugar than store bought fruit—it’s just sweeter. When I made a second batch of strawberry fennel jam from store bought berries, I had to use more than double the amount of sugar for the same amount of berries. Even after a couple of days of keeping the berries under a damp paper towel. I’m not against sugar (unrefined), it’s rich in iron and magnesium, but I prefer utilizing the natural sugar in fruits. Another reason to support local farmers 🙂
Tastes: Sweet, Pungent
Qualities: Heavy, Moist
Total Time: 30-40 minutes
Yields: 1 1/2 cups
What you need: mortar/pestle or a coffee grinder, a masher, and a clean mason jar
- 1 lb SWEET blueberries (2 1/2 cups)
- 1/4 cup jaggery (gur) or succanet*
- 1/8 tsp pink or sea salt
- 1 T water (optional)
- 1 tsp lavender seeds (then crushed)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp rose water
- 1 tsp lemon juice
Step 1: Rinse the blueberries and add them to a heavy-bottom stainless steel pot with the sugar and salt. Place the pot on the stove on low-medium heat covered until the mixture begins to get juicy (add water if needed) About 4-5 mins.
Step 2: In the meantime, place a small glass or metal bowl in the freezer for testing the jam’s consistency.
Step 3: When the juices start to release, uncover and increase the heat to medium-high. Once the mixture starts to bubble, lower the temperature and let it simmer.
Step 6: After 15-20 minutes of simmering, begin the freezer test. Place 2 teaspoons of jam into the chilled dish and return the dish to the freezer for a minute. After a minute in the freezer, remove and rotate the dish to check the consistency and ensure all the sugar has melted (the jam should be completely cool). If it’s too thin continue to cook until you get the consistency of your preference. If the jam is not sweet enough, add more sugar and continue to cook. Repeat the freezer test after the sugar has completely melted. The jam should coat a spoon, but not be to thick where it doesn’t drip off the spoon. My cook time was a little less than 30 minutes.
Step 7: Once you have the right consistency, remove the pot from the heat and add the rose water. Stir and let the jam rest for 10-15 minutes before adding it to the jar or an airtight container. Fill jar, and let cool completely before adding the lemon juice to the top of the jar (the acidity will help preserve the jam). Once it’s completely cool, cover and store in the fridge. The jam will keep for up to 2-3 months.
Notes: Prevent any condensation from forming in the jar by ensuring jam is completely cool before securing the jar with the lid. Always use a clean utensil when serving the jam to prevent spoilage. If you want to preserve this jam for a longer period of time and store it in the pantry, follow canning guidelines.
*Kapha imbalances or kapha predominant doshas eat in moderation. Jaggery (gur) is available in S. Asian markets—alternatives are panela or succanet. All three are minimally processed and derived from sugar cane. They are high in iron and minerals. The minimal processing prevents the sugar crash that occurs with refined sugars.