Canning and Preserving - The Summer Series: Blues and Bay

This recipe by Hugh Fearnly-Whittingsall employs the oven method...which makes it an incredibly quick and tidy process. If you're looking for instant gratification, here's a great place to start. The bay leaves not only add a lovely hint of lemony nutmeg, but makes a decorative jar as well which is perfect for holiday gifts!

Start by preheating the oven to 300 degrees F. Prepare and sterilize 3 pint jars or 4 half pint jars.

Now you need to make a simple fruit syrup. Mix 3/4 cups superfine sugar with 2 1/2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring slowly to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and add 1/4 cup lemon juice, cover and keep warm.

Pick over 2 1/4 pounds of blueberries, removing any twiggy bits and leaves. Pack them gently, but firmly into your warm sterilized jars, sliding the bay leaves attractively around the jars. You'll need two fresh bay leaves per jar. I used leaves from my lemon bay tree.

A little trick...put the jars in large muffin pans. It will make it easier to get in an out of the oven without spilling, and also, will catch any syrup that overflows.

Bring the sugar syrup to a boil and pour over the berries filling the jar to the brim. Put on the lids, but not the screw bands. Hugh's recipe says to put them 2 inches apart in the oven, which works out nicely with the muffin pans if you stagger the jars from one another.

Leave in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, carefully remove jars, immediately seal with the screw bands and place on a wooden surface, newspaper or folded cloth. Leave undisturbed until completely cool and check seal the next day.

Here is the jar after processing and sealing, and below are the lovely berries and syrup atop some creamy plain yogurt. What an amazing treat!