Edible Monterey Bay



Courtesy Jordan Champagne, chef, instructor and co-founder,
Happy Girl Kitchen Co. in Pacific Grove

Yield: 12 4-ounce jars

Many people have great memories of going blueberry picking in the Northeast. One of my favorite children’s books is Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey, in which a mother and child head out to the bush for a day of blueberry picking and have quite the adventure before returning home to make jam. Blueberries are tiny and make a wonderful sound as the fall into a bucket. It takes a lot of work to harvest enough of any small berry to make jam, but it is a lovely way to spend the day.

Here on California’s Central Coast, it used to be that even cultivated local blueberries were uncommon. But it seems that we can figure out how to grow everything in California, and with the help of hybridists and soil scientists, we are now one of the largest producers of blueberries in the United States. So today we are able to make jam out of local blueberries, too!

4 pints blueberries
¼ cup lemon or lime juice
1½ cups organic sugar
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
¼ cup lime zest

Wash, dry and place your blueberries in the pot you will be cooking them in. Cover the blueberries with lemon or lime juice and then with sugar. Even though blueberries have a tough outer skin, I still let them macerate overnight with the juice and sugar. This can help decrease the cooking time the next day. If you do not have the time to wait, then you can skip this step with blueberries.

The next day you can begin to cook your jam on a medium to high heat. The contents should boil the entire time. Add lime zest 5 minutes into cooking and continue to boil. Boil contents until gelling point is reached (10–15 minutes). Add mint leaves just at the end. Fill jars and process in a hot water bath canner.