I am currently in love with two things:
1) It is blackberry season in Seattle and they are everywhere
2) The color of my freshly canned blackberry jam (seriously in love, as evidenced by the quantity of pictures I've included in this post)
It all started when my mom was here visiting. While we were out exploring she pointed out all the many, many blackberry plants growing in various spots around the city and suggested I make jam. My mom is a genius sometimes.
After she left, I ventured out for a little urban berry picking. I chose a nice shady spot alongside a busy road in Seattle at rush hour. Needless to say I got my fair share of gawks, but I was determined to make this jam. So I got over my stage fright and began clambering all through the thorny bushes. Once finished, I marched my way proudly, albeit a bit roughed up, through my neighborhood with a bowl full of blackberries destined to be my first batch of jam.
I have been an assistant jam maker for most of my life, which primarily entails stirring and cleaning, but never the head jammer. While the job responsibilities of an assistant weren't exactly the best preparation for breaking off on my own, being in the kitchen as the whole process went down apparently gave me a pretty good gist of the procedure because I am now officially marking my first jam attempt as a success. All the jars made that lovely "pop" sound indicating they sealed properly, they have a beautiful deep purple color, as I may have mentioned previously, and considering I ate probably an entire jar of jam before it actually made it to the jar, I can confidently say it is going to make one mean PB+J.
While I'd like to say it was all fun and easy and I took to jam making as if I was Mr. Smucker himself, I do admit there were a few frantic calls home to my parents. Which is probably for the better because now you can learn from my nearly disastrous mistakes!
1 1/3 cup crushed blackberries
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons low sugar or no sugar needed pectin
1 teaspoon soy butter (optional - helps reduce foam)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Prepare water bath canner and wash/sterilize 2 8oz mason jars. Keep jars in hot (not boiling) water until ready to use. Warm lids in hot (not boiling) water to sterilize and soften seal.
If the blackberries are extra seedy, strain them through a fine strainer or cheese cloth. Place blackberries, and water in a medium saucepan. Gradually stir in the pectin. Add butter, if using. Over high heat, bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, stirring constantly.
Add sugar all at once to the boiling blackberry mixture. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil for 1 additional minute once rolling boil is reached, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim foam, if necessary.
Ladle jam into prepared mason jars, leaving 1/2-inch of space at the top. Remove any air bubbles, and carefully wipe jar rims and threads. Center lids and screw on the ring bands until fingertip-tight. Place jars in water bath, ensuring they are completely covered by at least 1 inch of water. Bring to a full rolling boil and process for the amount of time dictated by your altitude. Uncover and remove from heat; let sit for 5 minutes to allow for the pressure to equalize. Carefully lift jars from water and arrange on a wire rack. Let cool completely, undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. Check seals. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used within 3 weeks; otherwise, you can store jars in a cool, dark place for a year.
Makes 2 8oz jars. You can multiply the batch to make more jars at once, just don't exceed 10 jars in one batch.
Some of my lessons learned:
- If you don't have a water bath canner, you can use a large pot with something on the bottom (metal rack, the ring bands, etc.) to keep the jars off the bottom of the pan so the water can circulate all around the jar. Just make sure the pan is large enough water to cover the jars by at least 1 inch
- If not all the jars seal correctly the first time, you can process them up to two more times, but you might want to check to make sure there is nothing along the rim of the jar before re-processing
- Do not let the jars tip over
- It's okay if the jars rattle around in the water bath