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Blackberry Meyer Lemon Jam

August 16, 2017 2 Comments

How do you keep summer in a jar?

On a recent trip to Sonoma County, we harvested so many fruits we ended up with more than we could possibly eat. We got busy preserving them not to let them spoil.

Amy, our friend and certified Master Food Preserver, guided us through an afternoon of transforming our freshly picked berries into luscious preserves.

Her preferred method of jam making, (and ours too now!) is to pass on adding pectin. This method has benefits and drawbacks, but in our opinion the benefits win out:  a softer set preserve requiring less sugar, darker colour, and a slightly caramelized flavour.

Here is the method we used, with some tips and photos to help you along the way. The ingredients and tools are listed at the end.

Be aware that blackberry jam splatters quite a bit since it is juicier than some other fruits. It can stain, so keep space clear of other items. A pinafore works beautifully for protecting your clothes!
 
Before you begin prepping your fruit, you'll want to prep your jars. If you're doing this for the first time, and have purchased new jars (or if you are re-using old jars) you'll want to make sure they are spotless by running them through the dishwasher or washing with very hot water and soap, and draining. You do not need to dry them. The metal bands do not need to be washed, since they do not come into contact with the preserves.

Place 4-6 small plates in the freezer for later use.

Now you can prep the fruit. Start by mashing the berries in a bowl or flat pan. Mash them just well enough to break the skins and release the juices. 

Once it is mashed, measure out the fruit into heavy stainless steel saucepan. Add the sugar, and stir to dissolve.

Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly keep the fruit from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Add the lemon and lemon zest.

The mixture will need to boil for about 15 - 25 minutes (depending on the fruit).

Keep stirring!

It will start to thicken and will coat the spoon nicely, as it begins to reduce.

Now is a good time to set out the jars you will be using, and to start boiling the water in your processing pot, equipped with the drop-in rack.

To test if the preserves are ready, remove one plate from the freezer and drop a small amount (about the size of a quarter) onto the plate. After a couple of seconds (when jam is cool enough to touch), run your finger through the drop. If the jam runs back together, it needs to keep simmering. Test again on another cold plate every 2 - 3 minutes. When the jam retains a clean path where you finger passes, it is ready.

Once the jam is ready to start placing into jars, remove from heat and skim off any foam.

Using a ladle, fill each jar until it is 1/4" from the rim. Remove any air pockets, and add more hot jam if needed.

Dampen a paper towel with vinegar and wipe the jar rims and threads clean. (Vinegar helps cut through the sugar to wipe off the sticky jam.)

Do a final check to be sure each jar is adequately full, and is properly cleaned.

Place the clean, flat metal lids on each jar. Screw on the metal bands just until resistance is met, then increase to "finger-tip tight." Do not over-tighten the lids.

Carefully place your filled jars into the jar rack over the boiling water. Drop the jars into the water, ensuring that they are covered by at least 1" of water. Add water if necessary. Cover the pot, and bring the water to a roiling boil.

Once water is boiling, set the timer. Jars must remain in fully submerged in boiling water for 10 minutes.

Remove lid, lift jars and allow to cool for a few minutes. Using a jar-lifter, carefully remove each jar and place in a location where it can rest for 24 hours, undisturbed. Do not touch or jostle the jar or lid, so as not to interfere with the seal.

After 24 hours, unscrew the bands and gently check to be sure each lid has properly sealed. Now is a good time to wipe the lids and bands to remove any moisture, so rust will not form.

Replace the bands, and store in a cool, dry place.

You may want to add labels or decorative wrapping - especially if you've made more than one type of jam, or if you plan on gifting them.

We used scraps of linen and colorful twine to attach hand-written labels. The possibilities are endless - get creative!

Old-Fashioned Blackberry Jam

Makes seven 8oz jars

Ingredients:

9 cups blackberries, crushed
6 cups sugar
1 1/2 lemons, zested and juiced  (the lemon is optional, but it really helps to brighten the jam and bring out the flavor)

Tools:

1 large stainless steel saucepan
1 large flat pan, for mashing
1 mashing instrument (such as a potato masher)
measuring cups and bowls
lemon juicer & zester
spoon or spatula for stirring
ladle
spotless, freshly washed jars with clean lids (must be new) and metal bands.
large pot with drop-in jar rack
4 - 6 small glass or ceramic plates, chilled
Most of these items can be purchased together in this kit, which contains your canning essentials.

NOTE: If you have not made preserves before, we suggest reading up on it, as preserving is meticulous work and you want to be sure your efforts do not go to waste! However, once you've learned the basics, it becomes easier, and the results are entirely worth the effort.

Such a happy project.


2 Responses

Elena Danielson
Elena Danielson

September 29, 2017

Pouring boiling water through the fresh red berry stain usually takes it out quickly. Must be done before the stain dries and sets. Linen is sturdy enough to take the boiling water. (For protein stains like cafe latte or blood, it must be ice cold water.)

Tricia Rose
Tricia Rose

August 17, 2017

We have been asked how we got the stains out of our pinafores.
Plum came out of the natural pinafore perfectly. The child’s pinny needed a spray of Shout, then a soak and washing, and you can still see shadows of the stain if you hold it up to the light, but it should be perfect with the next couple of washes.
Let a stained garment dry naturally, as tumble drying can set the marks.
Rachel commented that she would never make berry preserves in a white pinafore! Common sense rules.

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