I’ve made a plan for my postings this week around the theme of “berries”. Each day I’ll have a recipe that uses fresh berries in a different way. Looking into my crystal ball I see a lot of baking in my future, and along with that I see the pounds/weight going up. I guess I’ll also need to increase my dancing in order to work off the calories. Any way you look at it its a win-win situation: more baking which I love, more dancing which I love, and more blogging; all for you, my dear readers! So to begin, here’s the story about my adventures in making homemade blackberry jam.
It’s always a challenge and an adventure when you pick blackberries! Not too far away from where I live there is a farm which features “pick-your-own” fruits, beginning with strawberries in the spring, right through to apples and pears in the fall. My favorite fruits to pick are raspberries and blackberries. Blackberry picking has not started yet, so what is pictured is the farm open for this year’s harvest of raspberries.
When you drive down the lane to where the bushes are located you can see the berries hanging heavy on the branches. Blackberry bushes are planted in rows with straw beneath them to keep down the weeds, and they grow thick and high. The best berries are the inky black ones, and they are usually found deep into the bush. Oh, did I mention that blackberry bushes have THORNS? Yes, well no matter how carefully you try to avoid them those thorns will bite you. So to get those wonderful fat, juicy, black berries you must suffer. When you have picked your limit and set out for home, there will be blackberry juice, scratches and dried blood on your arms and legs and a blackberry stain around your mouth. (Who can pick without tasting?) Anyone would think you have been in a fight.
Why do I do this year after year? Because it’s so worth it. There are so many things you can do with blackberries like make jam, pie, cobbler, liqueur, and sauce. They freeze beautifully. Just lay them out on a baking sheet. Stick in the freezer for a while and when frozen place in zip-lock bags for future use. Today I will share with you my recipe for blackberry jam.
Yield: 6 six-ounce glasses
- 6 cups blackberries
- 1/2 cup water
- 6 cups sugar
- 3/4 – 1 cup orange juice
- 3 – 4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon grated orange zest
Cook the berries with water until they are heated through. Crush the berries and rub through a sieve to remove the seeds. Add sugar, fruit juices and grated orange zest. Cook over low heat until thick. Because blackberries are naturally high in pectin, and the juices add citric acid, this mixture thickens well without the addition of more pectin.
While the berries are cooking I put my jars, lids and rings in the dishwasher and run it to wash and sterilize the jars. Then as the berry mixture is thickened and ready to be jarred, I remove the hot jars one at a time from the dishwasher, (keep the other jars hot) fill it leaving about 1/8 inch space at the top. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids and screw bands on tightly. As each jar is filled and covered, immediately turn it upside down on a dish towel. After about 5 minutes turn jars upright. Soon you will hear a snap/pop sound as the vacuum forms and the jars become sealed. This is so neat! There will be no need to boil jam-filled jars in a large kettle to achieve this same result. If for some reason a jar does not make a seal, then that’s the one you can start to enjoy right away.
This jam was made last summer. As long as it is well sealed it will keep for several years on your pantry shelf. I like to give a jar of jam and home baked bread as a Holiday gift or Hostess gift when I am visiting. It is always welcome.
SOURCE: Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook ? edition. This wonderful cookbook was given to me as a wedding gift, and it has seen much use over the years. It is well worn and well loved.