Becoming a parent makes you question everything you’ve always known and done. Are you using the right type of laundry detergent? Is your car safe enough? Are you even qualified to have a child in the first place? But more than anything else, food becomes a much larger focus in your life.
It wasn’t long after my daughter was born that we started closely examining everything we ate. I wanted to get her off to the right start so she wouldn’t have to worry about breaking bad habits later. By the time she was 18 months old, I was a stay-at-home mom and began my journey in the kitchen.
Before my daughter, we ate too much boxed and frozen food. Convenience was key, with little attention paid to nutrition. She saved us. She gave us a reason to care about what we ate, for we were her examples. She inspired me to start cooking and baking for real. She changed me.
I’m proud that my daughter, at 8 years old, knows to avoid high fructose corn syrup and an over-abundance of sugary treats. I’m happy that she makes smart choices and puts great thought into the process. And I’m thrilled that I can help her decisions be that much easier. That’s my contribution—what I prepare.
Homemade food gives you the option to control the quantity and quality of the ingredients. It is always worth the time and effort, even if it’s not always easy to find the time for it. And those who are fortunate enough to partake of your labor—they get the biggest benefit of all: your love. It comes through with every bite they take.
Blueberry Thyme Preserves
3 cups blueberries, washed and picked over
7 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
3 Tablespoons classic pectin
2 cups organic sugar
3 half-pint jars with lids and bands
1 jar lifter (or strong set of tongs)
In a large pot, place the jars, lids, and bands and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the contents sit in the water until needed.
In the meantime, in a large heavy-bottomed pot, smash the blueberries with a potato masher. Stir in the lemon juice and thyme leaves. Slowly add the pectin, stirring until it’s well incorporated. Turn the heat on to medium-high and stir constantly.
Once the mixture comes to a boil that can’t be stirred away, add the sugar all at once and stir it in. Bring the mixture back up to a boil, stirring constantly. Once it boils, keep it at a hard boil for one minute, then remove from heat.
Remove a jar from the pot, dumping the water out of it as you take it out. Place the funnel in it and ladle the preserves into the jar, filling to about ¼” from the top. Remove a lid and place it on the top, then remove a band and tighten that over it. Repeat with the remaining jars and preserves.
Let sit at room temperature for at least 4 hours, then transfer to the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. You can store in the freezer as well, for up to 3 months. If you’d like to keep the jam longer than that, you’ll have to process the jars for canning.
Note: Some will say you do not need to sterilize the jars if you’re not processing them after for shelf-stability. I would rather not take any chances; it doesn’t hurt any to boil the jars while you’re making the jam and you’ll gain some peace of mind in the process.