Blackberry Time, at last

Blackberries on the vine.

Blackberry Jam, Jelly and Preserves maybe the number one jelly or jam flavor that we sold in our business. So let’s head over to the nearest blackberry patch and pick as many as we can carry. We will also eat about the same amount while picking. Be careful of the briars, they hurt. Don’t be afraid of anything you think you might see while picking. The story about snakes being there is just a story, maybe just a story…..maybe.

Something of a personal note. I won the Best of Show and a Gold Medal for Excellence at the Georgia National Fair with my Blackberry Jam. I was quite proud of myself. It is something not many people win.

Everywhere we went people would always ask if we had Blackberry products. Most wanted jam, jelly and preserves. I have never figured out the  lure of this fruit. It is great tasting, but I have trouble with the seeds. I bet I am not the only one that has seed problems with both blackberries and raspberries. There is a solution for this, either stick to jelly or make seedless jam. Seedless jam from blackberries or raspberries takes plenty of  berries and plenty of time, along with a couple of kitchen gadgets to remove the seeds. I will cover the process for you later in this blog. I will also  cover freezer jam; that is jam you make and store in your freezer. This jam doesn’t have to be processed, but does need time to thaw.

Let’s get started with Blackberry Jam made without pectin

You need 9 cups berries that have been washed and crushed. 6 cups
cane sugar (make sure you use cane sugar, look on the bag it will say cane

Bring the mixture slowly to a boil stirring constantly til it reaches a jelling point. Dip a metal spoon into the boiling mixture. When the liquid breaks from the spoon in a sheet instead of drops, you have reached the jelling point. If you use a candy thermometer the temperature will be 8º above the boiling point of water, 212° at sea level. It will be higher in higher elevations. I have seen that even the barometric pressure has an effect on the boiling point of water. Low pressure makes water boil at a lower temperature and vice versa.

Check out the foam from cooking

That is why we say 8º above your boiling point; it varies with all the above reasons. To find out your water temperature before cooking your blackberries, put your thermometer in boiling water and write down the temperature. That is the point you start from with your blackberries. I had to look all this up to make sure you had the correct information. Mary Lynn wrote it down for me in a note. she knew all this about altitude and pressure making a difference in cooking. Someday I will do a blog and introduce Mary Lynn to you. She is a special person, and I am glad I married her. She always seems to have a surprise up her sleeve, even when she doesn’t have sleeves. After all that is done, skim and ladle into clean jars. Clean the rims, place sterile domes and rings on. Process in boiling water bath 15 minutes.

If you want Seedless Blackberry Jam, you will need to heat
your berries in a microwave for 90 seconds until they are soft. Press the fruit
thru a food mill or sieve. This seems like extra work, but as far as I know
there is no other way to get the seeds out.

Push thru a sieve to get out seeds.

I never really thought about removing seeds from a berry when making jam. The first time I tasted the seedless and then the regular jam I knew why the extra work was needed for me to really enjoy blackberry jam. It will take at least 10 cups of berries because you will end up with at least 1 cup of seeds. Cook and process in the same way as above.

Blackberry Jam, using pectin

5 cups washed and crushed berries, 7 cups cane sugar, and 1 package of pectin.

Bring your berries and pectin to a boil, add your sugar and bring
back to a boil for 1 minute. All this while stirring constantly. Skim and ladle
into jars, add sterile domes and rings. Process in boiling water bath 15 minutes.

Blackberry Jelly takes a little longer to get ready to cook, but I think it is time well spent. I do love jelly on so many things. One of the places I like blackberry jelly is a good toasted English muffin. I think the jelly made from blackberries has a stronger fruit taste than all the other fruits we make jelly from.

To make the juice for your jelly start with washing and draining your fruit. Crush the berries and measure your volume. For each quart (4 cups) of berries add 1/2 cup water. Add your mixture to a pot and heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes or until your berries have gotten real soft.
Strain thru damp muslin or a damp jelly bag to extract the juice. Do not push the mixture thru the strainer. Just leave it until there are no more drops failing. This can take a while, probably at least 2 hours depending on how much you are working with. If you have a large amount, consider splitting it into more than one strainer. When you have you juice it is now time to start cooking jelly.

3 1/2 cups blackberry juice, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 5 cups
cane sugar, 1 package of powdered pectin. (I say powdered because someone asks
me if it was OK to use the liquid kind). We never had good results with liquid pectin.

Combine juice, lemon juice and pectin in a large heavy-duty
cooking pot. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, add your sugar and
continue cooking til it comes back to a rolling boil (a boil the you can’t stop
by stirring). All the time stirring your jelly mixture. Boil the sugar liquid
mixture for 1 minute then remove from heat or turn off the gas. Skim any foam
and ladle into processed jars, clean the rim and add domes and rings. Then in a boiling bath for 5 minutes. This makes five 8 ounce jars. That is why you really need to consider doing large batches of fruit to get enough liquid. You can double your batch and make 10 jars at a time with no problem.

Blackberry Jelly without pectin

Use 4 cups juice (as above) and 3 cups cane sugar. Boil the
mixture until a metal spoon “sheets”, just like it did if you made
the jam

Don’t forget to make corrections based on altitude where you live
and the weather. (All explained above also) After the sheeting appears skim and
ladle into prepared jars, process 5 minutes.

Next on the menu Freezer Blackberry Jam

For this you have to use special jars or containers made for your
freezer. Do not use your regular canning jars!!!!!

Combine 3 cups crushed berries with 5 1/4 cups cane sugar. Mix and
let stand for at least 15 minutes, a little longer might be better. Meanwhile
bring 3/4 cup water and 1 package of pectin to a boil. Boil for 1 minute
stirring constantly. Add the water/pectin to the fruit/sugar mixture. Stir for
at least 3 minutes.
Ladle into freezer jars or freezer containers leaving 1/2 inch
head space. Apply domes and rings on cleaned rims of jars. Let the jam set in the fridge until it sets up (6 to 24 hours). Store in fridge for up to 3 weeks or freezer for up to
1 year. Many people like this method as opposed to the other more traditional
method. I have never had any type of freezer jam, so I can’t tell you which one
is better. I suppose that the traditional people will tell you their method
tastes best and the freezer people will say the same. I will leave it up to you
to decide. Let me know which one you pick as best.

 Blackberry Preserves this is the godfather of all the blackberry recipes. When you ask someone about their favorite blackberry memory, I’ll bet it was at their grandmother’s house. They will say that they were eating fresh hot biscuits with real butter and blackberry preserves that their grandmother had made. Well I don’t know about the biscuit part but you can make preserves that will taste very similar to your
grandmother’s. I say similar because no one can cook like your grandmother. The
love that she always added is the big difference in the flavor.

Blackberry Preserves on a biscuit

Take 2 pounds blackberries and add 4 cups sugar then let stand for
1 hour or covered overnight in your fridge. It is OK to double this recipe and
make double the number of jars at the same time. After the mixture has set for the needed time pour into a cooking pot and bring the mixture slowly to a boil; stirring gently.
After it comes to a boil watch the mixture carefully, stirring often.
When the
liquid reaches jelling stage (check with metal spoon), remove from heat, skim
and ladle into jars. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Bringing our cook fest to a close will be Blackberry Syrup.
Great on pancakes or waffles. Even better on ice cream with a slice of pound
cake under the ice cream. This soaks up the melting ice cream and the syrup,
making this the most fun way of eating cooked blackberries.

In a large saucepan add 2 quarts crushed blackberries and add 2
cups water; bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Do not forget to stir all
the time. When the liquid has cooled strain thru a jelly sack or damp muslin.
This will take at least 2 hours or more. Do not try to hurry the process you
want the best. Best is not fast.

Now you are ready to make syrup from the liquid. Combine 3 cups sugar and 4 cups water; boil for 5 minutes, until the simple syrup (that is what you call sugar and water mixture) starts to thicken. You can use 2 cups corn syrup and 2 cups sugar instead of all cane sugar. Add the blackberry juice to the sugar syrup and boil for 1 minute.Skim, ladle into jars or use syrup bottles that have been sterilized. If you use jars process 5 minutes in boiling water bath. If you don’t want to process, store in your refrigerator til needed.

Blackberry Syrup

This recipe makes about 3 pints of beautiful blackberry syrup.
This wraps up our trip to the briar patch to pick blackberries.  Take them home and make all different types of goodies. I hope you try to make something we covered. If you can’t get fresh berries, you can always use frozen ones. The frozen ones doesn’t work well for preserves, but will work for all other recipes. Just remember always use fresh any time you can. The flavor is worth it!

Something I thought about while working on the above recipes. I have never heard of Blackberry Ice Cream. If any of you have a recipe, please let me know. I will give you full credit for the recipe in a future blog.

Please let me know what you would like to make or any ideas you
have for the next blog. Just drop me a note at

Remember, don’t keep my blogs a secret, and pass the word on to
your friends, neighbors and family members. They just might make something and share with you.

About Pete Austin & The Austin House

My wife, Mary Lynn and I had a very sucessful canning business for over 15 years, called The Austin House Jams & Jellies. We had to close it due to pure health. I will be writing a blog about some of the recipes, and how to use them. Also some of the interesting, funny, weird things that have happened in our traveling with the business. If you follow me, you will see that I look at things just a little different than others. If you look at the header at the top of the page, you see that I am looking at things. Making sure eveything looks as good as possible.
This entry was posted in Blackberry, Food Preservation, Home Made, No artifical ingredients, No preservatives, Old Fashioned, Preserves, Recipe, Syrups and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Blackberry Time, at last

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