We are knee deep in blackberry season and making the very most of it. Blackberry cobbler, blackberry galette, blackberries in our oatmeal, our lemonade… And, for the very first time, we made blackberry jam, aka, summer in a jar. Oh my, is it ever wonderful! I’ve only ever pickled before but was very excited to try something new. And turns out, it’s super easy to do!
Step one, find a thick patch of blackberries and pick and pick and pick til your fingers and mouths are completely stained. No matter the thorns, you’d be hard pressed to pull my little ones out of a blackberry patch til every last berry is either in their basket or tummy.
Step two, wash the berries.. and eat many.
Step three, prepare your jars by sterilizing in boiling water for about 10 minutes. If you’re going to be putting jars away for eating later then you will also need to put your lids in a pot of hot (not boiling) water. Leave everything in the hot water til ready to fill.
Step four, measure out your blackberries and place them in a large, heavy saucepan. For every cup of berries you will need about 1 cup of sugar (more or less to suit you) and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Now, I’ve very interested in trying to make sugar free jam. But since it was my first time I didn’t feel confidant enough to mess with it.
Step five, put the other ingredients in the pan with the berries and smash everything together til the berries are as smashed as you’d like them to be. I like to leave some whole.
Step six, over high heat bring the berry mixture to a boil and, while stirring constantly, allow to boil for about 5 minutes. If it’s bubbling over the pan do turn it down just a bit. Now turn it down to medium and let it continue to cook for another 15 minutes. At this time put a spoonful on a plate and stick it in the fridge to cool down a few minutes. Check to see if it’s still running or stays put. It’s ready when it stays put when you tilt the plate. If 15 minutes isn’t enough (wasn’t for me, I had to do the fridge test several times) then continue checking it in the fridge in 5 minute intervals.
Step seven, when it passes the fridge test spoon it into your jars and place the hot lids on right away. If you plan to eat your jam right away, you are finished. Allow to cool completely and enjoy! Otherwise, move on to the next step.
Step eight, if you want to put some jam away for eating in the middle of the winter or plan to give as gifts, then you will need to process your jars in a hot water bath. So, in a large pot (stock pot works) of boiling water, lower your jars in very carefully, preferably with jar lifting tongs. Make sure the water covers the jars completely. Allow them to boil for about 10 minutes.
Step nine, remove the jars with the tongs and allow them to cool. As they cool you will hear the lids popping. If one doesn’t pop then it hasn’t properly sealed and will need to be eaten within a week.
Enjoy on popovers and toast and PB&Js and snuck by the spoonful when no one is looking.
And if you’re able to put at least a jar aside til later, then enjoy your blackberry jam in the dead of winter and remember the warm days so full of sunshine and berries.