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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Blackberry Jam

A sunny fall morning with toast, jam and coffee. Ahhh. Blackberry jam can be especially satisfying because it can be a long-term labor of love. This batch of jam is the culmination of 3 or 4 berry picking excursions. I've learned to use my insulated lunch box to pick the berries because it will hang over my arm, leaving two hands free for managing the prickly canes.

This recipe is essentially the one in the Sure Jell low or no sugar box. They reccommend mashing some of the berries and leaving some whole. If the seeds in your area are tender enough for that, go for it. In my area the seeds seem to be very hard. I try to get as many out as I can with a food mill. A few always make it through, but I don't want to go so far as to strain it.

A word of warning about blackberries - they stain. Observe my sink. It's two weeks and several scrubbings later and it is starting to fade. The plastic lining of my lunch box also took some time to recover.

Here are my happy little jars at the end of the day. This canning day, I made the cherry vanilla preserves previously featured, this blackberry jam and a mixed berry jam. I was tempted to label the mixed berry jam "Freezer Berry." I had a couple of cups of blackberry pulp left and threw in a frozen bag of blueberries and a frozen bag of cranberries to bring it up to the volume for the pectin box recipe. Both berry jams came out rather stiff. I think that the next time I use seeded berries I will try doing it without pectin. There seems to be plenty of natural pectin in the berries. I've commented before that I'm getting a real eye for determining when things reach the proper jelling consistency. With pectin that control is taken away. You boil for one minute, period. If anyone has used pectin while flouting the rules, I'd like to hear how things came out.

Blackberry Jam
5 cups of prepared blackberry pulp
4 cups sugar
1 box Sure Jell low or no sugar pectin (the pink box)

Prepare jars, rings, lids and boiling water bath.

Place berry pulp in a large pot. Combine 1/4 cup of the sugar and the pectin and stir into the fruit. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil. Quickly stir in remaining sugar. Return to boil and once it reaches a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, boil for one minute. Remove from heat and stir for a minute to distribute any seeds that came through the mill. Ladle into jars. Wipe rims and cover with lids and rings. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Carefully remove jars and set them on a towel. Allow them to stand overnight before labeling. Makes 7 half-pint jars.

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