Blueberry preserves are a type of condiment similar to jelly or jam but made with whole blueberries rather than just the juice or pulp. Although blueberry preserves can sometimes be found in stores or online, they are often made at home using fresh blueberries. A canner is required for these preserves to keep for any length of time.
Blueberries used to make preserves should be fresh. Making preserves is ideal for individuals who enjoy berry picking but cannot easily use all the berries they pick before the fruit spoils. Although making the preserves requires a canner, they are relatively easy to prepare and to can.
In addition to blueberries, sugar is an essential element in blueberry preserves. An acidic liquid generally is also required. Lemon juice, cider vinegar or lime juice are all popular choices. Other seasonings, such as allspice, cloves or cinnamon, can be added as well. Occasionally, lemon zest might be also be included.
The blueberries and sugar can be combined in a bowl and refrigerated overnight. Sometimes the lime or lemon juice is added at this time as well. The blueberries are fragile, so care is always taken when mixing to avoid crushing the fruit. This step is often omitted, however, and all the ingredients are simply cooked in a saucepan without first marinating them. As the mixture cooks, it should be stirred frequently until it thickens.
After the preserve mixture is cooked, it should be placed in jars. The jars should always be thoroughly cleaned and dried before use. Then, both the jars and the lids are heated in water before the preserves are placed inside. After the preserves are secured in the jars, they are placed in a special canning pot that is filled with boiling water, and the jars are sealed. After sealing, they are allowed to cool for about a day before being handled further.
Properly canned blueberry preserves can keep for as long as a year in a pantry or cupboard. After they are opened, however, the jars must be refrigerated. When unsealed and refrigerated, they keep as long as opened preserves that were commercially made.
Blueberry preserves are often used as toppings for ice creams or other sweet desserts. They also can be baked in cobblers or pies or can be spread onto toast like jam or jelly. These preserves are similar to blueberry compote, which is made in much the same way but is served immediately, generally as a warm topping for desserts.