Sunday, June 9, 2013

Life a little sweeter

Earlier in the week I went freezer diving and pulled out six (!) large Ziplocks filled with frozen blackberries.  Last year was a perfect year for wild blackberries.  While many other plants suffered in the heat and dryness, the blackberries thrived.
After enjoying bowl after bowlful, it was time to rinse the bounty and stock it away for another time.  Unlike the berries one buys at the store, our berries were not soaked in sugar before being put away.  Rather, the berries were rinsed then spread out on a cookie sheet prior to freezing.  This allowed each fruit to freeze separately, maintaining it's shape and juice.  The frozen berries are then vacuum sealed before being returned to the freezer until ready to use.

My general rule of thumb when preparing fruits or vegetables is less is more.  When making jam, focus on the fruit.  Our Blackberry jam has only three ingredients: Blackberries, sugar, and pectin (to aide in setting the jell).  One of my favorite recipes can be found at  The only change in this recipe is whenever making jam I use a 1 to 2/3rds ratio fruit to sugar.  This creates more of a fruit flavor to the jam however feel free to adjust it to suit your pallet.


What slows people down from making their own jams are the seeds.  No one really likes to have the smooth creamy texture of good jam interrupted by a stony seed pellet.  This is easy to remedy.  First of all, put away the food processor.  All this does is grind up the seeds to the consistency of sand making them harder to remove. 
By first mashing the heated fruit with a potato masher, then later mashing and sieving the hot pulp through a food mill, one will render out more of that delicious pulp and filter out the pebbly seeds.  For those that start with seedless fruit (a time saver), after processing through the food mill, set aside the remaining pulp in the refrigerator for an interesting fruit spread.  It won't keep as long as the processed jam (unless, of course, you freeze it), but it's a pure fruit change from sugared spreads.

Like fruit pies, feel free to mix and match fruit combinations when making your jam.  Concord and blackberry blend very nicely as does strawberry with blackberry.  Whatever your favorite, I'm sure you'll find that your store bought jam will pale by comparison to that lovely fresh taste from garden to kitchen.

For some special Tips on Jam making, (click here)

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