Lately, my radar has been jam-packed with jam. Yesterday, I was catching up on my tweets and I came across this article. Then my friend Maddie and I went strolling through the Rittenhouse Square Barnes and Noble looking at books on preserves, pickling, jams and canning. And of course, if you've been following my blog, you'll see that I had four pounds of ripe, delicious, juicy blackberries just begging to be made into jam. Have no fear, my friends. My mother and I did just that.
My mom and I have been making jam since I was in high school. It started one summer when my dad brought home a huge bucket of wild elderberries. When my teenage self first saw the small suckers, I was unconvinced that they could make anything worth eating. They were too tiny to get a real taste for their flavor, but my mom had confidence in them. We spent all afternoon plucking them off their stems and though it was time consuming, the end result was definitely worth all of our hard work.
Though we've dabbled in chokecherries and made elderberry jam year after year, we've never actually made jam with any common berry.... that is, until I brought some home this week. Here's our adventure in pictures.
Our beautiful berries (most packages of pectin will tell you the proper ratio of berries to sugar to jam yield. In our case, we were looking for 5 cups of juice).
Place in a large pot.
(look at that beautiful purple juice)
Meanwhile, clean mason/Bell jars with hot soapy water and turn upside down on a paper towel to dry.
Fit a food mill on top of another clean pot.
Add canning lids to boiling hot water to sterilize them.
Once the blackberry mixture has come to a rolling boil, ladle into the food mill.
You should be left with a thick juice (don't sweat it if there are a few seeds in the juice). At this point you can add a tiny bit of butter to discourage the juice from foaming. We did and it helped significantly.
Next, measure the juice (we needed 5 cups)
Allow mixture to come to a rolling boil.
Cook until the mixture comes to a rolling boil. Continue to cook for one minute, then turn off heat and begin to ladle mixture into jars. It helps to use a canning kit so you don't burn your fingers.
Almost finished! Place the lids on the jars and screw the tops on tightly. From this point, you can either boil your jars in hot water using a waterbath method or you can flip the jars upside down for 5 minutes and then turn them over (We did the latter. As the jars seal, they make a popping noise as a vacuum is created. Once the jars are cool, if you press down on the lid, the lid should not make any popping noise).
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a jar back to PA with me, so I'll have to wait two weeks before I can have some on toast. One final note--I like to have a soundtrack to my culinary adventures. For jam making? Technotronic's "Pump Up the Jam."
For more information on jam making and canning, check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation's website.