Saturday, March 31, 2007

Blackberry Jam

The big difference between home canned jams and the stuff you buy from the store is the amount of fruit that you taste. Properly done home canned blackberry jam will taste a lot closer to the real thing. You can use just about any berry you can think of with this recipe. I got it right off the side of the Certo® pectin box. I'm making the blackberry jam today. Tomorrow's breakfast is buckwheat pancakes!


2 Quarts ripe blackberries
7 cups sugar measured into a separate bowl and kept on the side
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 pouch Certo® fruit pectin
1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt

Wash the berries well under lots of cold running water. Drain in a strainer lined with paper towels.

Bring canning pot half filled with water to a simmer. Wash screw lids and rubber rings very well in hot, soapy water, rinse and dry thoroughly. Pour boiling water over the flat lids in a saucepan off heat and let stand in the hot water until ready to use. Dry completely before using.

Crush the blackberries thoroughly. (i use my trusty old potato masher for this) You can, if you wish, run half the mashed pulp through a seive to remove some of the seeds. I don't, but that's just me. Measure exactly 4 cups of fruit, add the 1/4 teaspoon salt and put into a 4 to 6 qt heavy saucepan. Add the sugar one cup at a time while stirring constantly and bringing the fruit to a full rolling boil. This means that the mixture keeps boiling while being stirred. Use more, or less, sugar according to your own taste. Add the butter as you need to keep the foaming under control. Stir in the pectin and boil for a full minute. Remove from heat and take off any foam with a metal spoon.

Ladle this immediately into the canning jars, filling to within an 1/8" to the tops. Wipe the jar rims and threads. Cover with the 3 piece lids and screw down tightly. Place the jars into the canning rack and lower into the simmering water. (the boiling water should cover the jars by one to two inches) Cover canning pot and boil gently for 10 minutes.

Remove the jars from the water and cool them on a towel down to room temperature. When they are fully cooled test the seals by pressing your finger into the center of the lid. (if the lid springs back the seal is not secure and this must be refrigerated and eaten first) Those with good seals will keep on a dark pantry shelf for almost a full year.

Once you've done this a few times feel free to experiment with the recipe by adding things like grated lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, and more, or less, amounts of pectin.

You'll find that when you've mastered a skill as basic as home canned jams your courage levels and ambitions when you visit the farmer's markets will increase exponentially. You'll also find yourself damned close to unable to eat anything store bought except the most expensive imported stuff. (which, by the way, doesn't deviate from this basic recipe much at all)

(cue the 5 string banjo)

buckwheat cakes, your buckwheat cakes
along with crispy bacon
buckwheat cakes, your buckwheat cakes
are what set my heart
to achin'



Blogger konagod said...

Have you ever made it without pectin? I don't have a clue if blackberries have any natural pectin -- I'd guess not, but when I was growing up on the farm I made a batch of crabapple jelly and left out the pectin -- it turned out great anyway because I guess crabapples probably have ample pectin.

Two years ago I planted two blackberry plants in a raised bed and since they take two years to produce fruit I'm hoping we see some this year.

3:48 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

no i've never tried it without the pectin. there is such a dramatic change in the consistency when the pectin is added and boiled, although concentrating the solids by a long reduction might have the same effect. i've never tried.

4:37 PM  
Blogger pissed off patricia said...

Don't care to make it but I will certainly eat it. Pass the jam, please.

5:00 AM  
Blogger Pogo said...

MB, you're killing me with the blackberry recipes. One more, and I'm gonna have to find a drool bib.

5:53 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

there's an old julie london song called nice girls don't stay for breakfast

the final tag of the chorus is

and nice girls
don't stay for breakfast
pass the jam

(i am a true and loyal julie london fan, she was the ultimate torch singer)

7:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Raspberries and blackberries both have pectin, but not enough to make a jam or jelly with if you add none. Apples (especially crabapples) have a lot.

- oddjob

8:23 AM  
Blogger BadTux said...

My grandmother always used cheesecloth to filter the pulp.

I planted some Brazos blackberries on my farm in Louisiana. They are still making quite well, despite years of neglect. My current tenant mows them down with the bush hog every couple of years rather than do the required pruning to get rid of dead last year's stems, and mows the verges of the blackberry patch rather than properly row them. Blackberries are definitely one of my favorite fruits to raise, being practically unkillable (at least in the North Louisiana climate) and relatively pest and disease free. Now, peaches... meh. Peach trees may grow like weeds in the Louisiana climate, but the fruit is junk unless you spray noxious pesticides and fungicides religiously. And don't talk to me about blueberries. They are altogether too fragile...

2:38 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i am totally jealous of my cousin who lives outside of courvallis oregon. his back fence is completely trellised with blackberries. and they are huge mothers. he's a merciless pruner every year, and every year when i visit (right around berry picking time) i load him up with jam, jelly, syrup and pies, pies, pies.

8:50 PM  
Blogger BadTux said...

The sad thing about blackberries is that they do not travel. Thus while I have a huge number of blackberries on my farm, I get to eat not a one of them fresh, for they are two thousand miles away. This is also why you do not see blackberries in your local grocer's unless you are lucky enough to live near producing blackberry farms and they are in season. Texas A&M is trying to breed a variety of blackberry that can be stocked by grocers, but thus far has only managed to breed the Brazos, which is astoundingly large and sweet and even more robust than the wild berries (unusual, because generally commercial cultivars of this sort are far less robust than the wild breed) but which, alas, travels no better than their smaller wild cousins.

Your cousin, undoubtedly, is totally jealous of your citrus there in Arizona. When I lived in Scottsdale my lemon tree kept me in lemons for much of the year as did my grapefruit tree. The orange tree... meh. Orange trees seem to be too fragile for the Arizona sun (as are lemon trees for that matter but they are so fast-growing and robust that they grow around the damage and continue growing and making). Fresh lemon pie, fresh lemonade, a grapefruit with every meal... for those of us where peaches and pears and blackberries are what grows, those of you in climates where citrus can be grow seem just as worthy of jealousy.

10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Raspberries, which I prefer, are even worse travellers than blackberries. Unfortunately, my most favorite of the bunch is the black raspberry, but that species is so susceptible to the virus diseases they all inevitably get that they're almost impossible to grow. Red raspberry plants get sick, but produce anyway.

Black raspberry plants get sick and promptly die.

I'm not surprised to learn blueberry plants are too fragile for nothern Louisiana. They're native to the Northeast, which I suspect has a more stable (and colder) climate. Here in the Boston area they're no problem to grow at all, likewise down to Washington, DC, and probably a little further before it gets too warm for them.

- oddjob

7:40 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i too, adore the raspberries. there are a few places in the rim region that are able to grow them. i agree that the black raspberry is the noblest expression of that gem. impossible to find. my cousin gets regular shipments from me with marmalades and other citrus goodies, but there's nothing like the fresh fruit, picked from your very own tree. my "fruit salad" citrus tree is about two or three seasons away from full maturity, but in the meantime, my neighbors all know that fresh fruit given to me results in pies and other goodies given back to them. just last week i went out for my morning paper and saw a bag of lemons with a note saying that a grandchild was having a party and had requested lemon marshmallows. done neighbor. with joy.

8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, btw, not that it's likely to happen, but don't be accepting someone who brings you fruit from Florida. There are now some seriously destructive Citrus diseases in Florida that are not yet elsewhere in the Citrus growing states.

Spread the word among your friends and neighbors. It's not cool to bring Florida Citrus (plants or fruit) into Arizona.

OT, I saw a movie last night that I think you'd enjoy. It's called The Namesake. Both I and my housemate left the cinema thinking about it.

- oddjob

6:53 PM  
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11:35 PM  
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3:32 AM  

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