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In a Jam


For those of you who think that everything we cook comes out perfect –
this post is for you.

To my Mom and Grandmaw who have canned soups, sauces, jams and pickles –
this post will render a great smile.

This all began when the blueberry farm offered the last harvest of the season as a discounted 8rmb ($1.17) per pint. OK!

Since we already had our small freezer and a neighbors freezer storing blueberries, we were out of space. But then we got a fun idea: let’s make jam! We can give away homemade blueberry jam for Christmas gifts! Canning them now is great because we’re always busy with holiday festivities in December. OK!

Hubs started researching various blueberry recipes. I didn’t really partake in this process except to agree that a blueberry lemon jam would be delicious. Hubs diligently read all the reviews and considered all the substitutions recommended. He configured how to make jam with 27 pints of blueberries.

Yes, that would be enough jam to give every single person in Yichang a Christmas gift. OK!

Blueberry lemon jam here we go!

As recommended, we lowered the sugar, but since we’re still putting almost equal parts sugar to berry, we used quite a bit of sugar. Hubs went to the store twice. On his second visit, the cashier asked why he was buying so much sugar. He replied, “Foreigners like sugar.”  When we ran out of sugar again, he sent me to the store because he felt like the cashiers would tackle him.

We peeled and squeezed 17 lemons. Yum. Hubs used the blender and then a cheesecloth to get the juice separated from the seeds. The kitchen smelt so fresh and lemony. Visions of delicious jam were dancing in my head.

27 pints of blueberries + the juice of 17 lemons + 27 pints of sugar = one very large pot

Lemon peels vs. lemon rind: a difficult lesson to learn.

The recipe said “lemon rind”. This typically means the white part as well. So we dutifully chopped up the appropriate amount of lemons. Actually we were 4 lemons short, but we figured it would still be alright since it would be less lemony.


It became bitter.



We added more sugar. It was sweeter yet still bitter.

It was, in fact, bitter sweet.

And growing more bitter with time.

We canned it anyway with the hope of redemption. Yes, we used recycled jars which when boiled the lids resealed. Chinese don’t can so canning jars are not available. No, we absolutely did not have enough jars.

In an effort to not throw away 27 pints of blueberries, Hubs baked some muffins using the jam the next afternoon. He essentially just added flour and baking powder to the jam. At first taste, we thought we found a solution, but then the bitterness came.

Schäfer woke up. He saw the muffins. He wanted a muffin. Hubs gave him one. They both partook. Schäfer complained of a stomach ache a couple hours later.  Eventually, they were both fine.

What we’re taking away from this experience:
1. Before making enough blueberry jam to satisfy a small country, make the recipe true to size. Test the recipe! Who knows? You may not like the recipe as lemony as others.

2. If it tastes bad hot, it probably won’t taste better cold.

3. If it tastes bad hot and cold, it probably won’t taste better when mixed in a muffin and baked.

4. Once it’s mixed in a muffin, it probably will still taste bad and eventually give your Husband and son a tummy ache – so much so that your son will request not to eat supper.

5. Ball jars are not necessary. (OR do you know something that I don’t?)

6. After a  Google consultation, you can use the whole rind, after you have boiled the rind twice (with fresh water each time) to remove the bitterness.

7. Sigh. 27 pints of blueberries wasted.

3 comments to In a Jam

  • amy

    Funny! This reminds me of a lemon pie I made. A lady I met in SF gave me these great HUGE lemons from her garden. Biggest lemons I have ever seen. And I used a recipe I had never tried (a Martha Stewart I think) where you leave the rind on. Well I didn’t think of the fact that extra huge lemon = extra huge rind = extra bitter. Not good. I’m sure with normal lemons it would have been great. Not so much for that pie though. I guess these things happen so we don’t think too highly of ourselves as cooks, right?

  • Gloria

    Chinese don't like sweet so they may like your jam

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