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.
- I boiled my clean jars for 10 minutes, then left them in hot water until ready to be filled with hot jam.
- The sealing discs and ring bands were brought to a boil in a small saucepan then left in hot water until ready for use.
Here's how I made it:
makes enough to fill 7 half-pint/250 ml mason jars
5 cups crushed blackberries
1 2 oz/57 g package of regular pectin crystals
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
5 cups granulated white sugar
In my largest pot, I combined the crushed blackberries and pectin crystals and brought the mixture to a boil over highest heat, stirring often. Once boiling, I added the vanilla and sugar and brought the mixture back up to a full hard boil over highest heat. Once there, the jam boiled for another minute then was removed from the heat. I spent a few minutes skimming the foam from the surface and discarded it.
I ladled the hot jam into my hot jars, leaving a 1/4-inch of headspace, then wiped the jar rims clean with a wet paper towel. The discs were secured in place with the bands just until finger tight, and my jars were lowered into the rack of my already-boiling water bath canner, resting with the tops of the jars 1-2 inches below the water surface. The jars were processed (boiled) for 15 minutes at a full boil, then removed from the canner to a tea towel on the kitchen counter to cool completely and form their seal (the centre of the lid should stay down when pressed).
Leave a comment: What foods does your family pick together? What do you make with what you pick?