There are wild blueberries here in Muskoka, but they’re tiny and tedious to pick, and I miss the round, sweet highbush blueberries that had just come into season in BC before we left. We snuck away for brunch the weekend before this past one, which seems like forever ago, before heading out of town. It was early afternoon and we were hungry, and jumped straight to the fried chicken on biscuits, but they recognized we had missed an integral course and brought a tray of breakfast pastries anyway – croissants and other fancy breads, along with a pot of blueberry gin jam to spread all over everything.
You couldn’t really taste the gin, but I love the idea of the combination and the fact that you could add more to your taste – blueberry jam is ridiculously easy to make, and doesn’t really require a recipe – the heat of a skillet breaks them down easily, and all you need to add is a shake of sugar to suit your taste (blueberries don’t need much) and a squeeze of lemon juice if you’re so inclined (or a shot of gin) – the hit of acid adds a bit of balance. It’s a great way to use blueberries that are a bit squidgy, or if you bought too many and they start to go wrinkly. Really to make jam all you need to do is cook the fruit and sugar until it breaks down and thickens and looks like jam – it doesn’t have to be an enormous pot, and you don’t need to fill several jars. You don’t even need a jar – just fill a bowl or a ramekin and keep it in the fridge to spread on your toast and scones until it’s gone. Or freeze it for another time – mostly what keeps people from making jam is the fear of having to go through the boiling and processing of it, but that’s not really necessary if you have a freezer.
There are so many amazing local gins out there – I used some from Park Distillery in Banff, and a shot of Eau Claire from Turner Valley, which is more complex with all the botanicals going on, and works particularly well in this jam. But use whatever gin you have in your cupboard. And trust yourself to wing it – add a splash of gin and sugar to taste and don’t worry about measuring your berries, but if you do like the security of measurements, here’s a rough guide.