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Blackberry vanilla jam

I know what they say in kindergarten: 'sharing is caring' and all that. But when it comes to preserves, some jars are more easily shared than others. A pint of pickled beets here, a half pint of mango chutney there, fine, fine. That's all good. But blackberry jam is different. Holding a jar of it in your hand, you remember how hard you worked to get enough of those dark luscious berries to make a batch. It's a most coveted jam; one you patiently foraged for among thorn-spiked branches, hands stained with a mixture of blackberry juice and your own blood.

Of course nothing says family activity like thorny bushes, so we headed out on our bikes recently with kids in tow (literally) to fill two large storage containers with juicy blackberries. The kids picked the low hanging fruit (there's a life lesson in there somewhere) while the grown-ups snuck over, around and through the prickly branches, muttering words under our breath the kids pretended to not know yet. Despite the scratches and the pricks and the constant requests for "another one?" from a hungry two-year-old, we came home with two full containers, one of which went right into the jam pot.  

Here's how to make it:
makes seven 250 mL/8 oz jars

To prepare, wash mason jars in hot soapy water and leave them to air dry. Bring lids and ring bands just to the boil in a small saucepan of water and set aside in the hot water until ready to use.

5 cups crushed blackberries
1 package (57 g/2 oz) regular pectin crystals
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
5 cups granulated white sugar

In a large pot (at least 6 quarts), stir together the crushed blackberries and pectin crystals. Bring to a boil over highest heat, stirring often. Once boiling, stir in the vanilla and sugar. Bring back up to a full hard boil over highest heat. Maintain foamy boil for one minute. Remove from heat. Skim off and discard any foamy scum. Ladle into clean jars leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims clean with a wet cloth or paper towel. Secure lids in place until fingertip tight. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes at full boil at least 1 to 2 inches under the water's surface. Remove from the canner to cool completely. Store up to 1 year.

Leave a comment: What foods does your family pick together? What do you make with what you pick?