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Jammin’ it up with Wild Blackberries

Jaide with a harvest of wild blackberriesGreat Granddaughter Jaide with a harvest of berries 

Son Joe, Inge, Frank and Jaide

Son Joe, Inge, Frank and Jaide

Wild blackberries from Olympia, Washington

DSCN5306Jaide & me DSCN5357Done!

We’re back to normal, whatever normal is, after coming home from vacation. What a special time we had spending time in Glen Lake, Michigan with two of our kids and grandkids, then visiting our son, Joe, and his family in both Olympia, Washington and Bellevue, Nebraska. We did lots of sight-seeing and good eating in between, too.

During our visit to Olympia, Inge, Joe’s wife, mentioned that wild blackberries were ripe. The word “wild” grabbed me right away. “The berries are organic and huge”, Inge said. We headed out to her secret berry patch and I couldn’t believe my eyes, really. Bigger than huge, ripe, sweet blackberries everywhere!  Check out the photo of Little Jaide, Inge and Joe’s granddaughter who helped pick, and you’ll see what Inge meant. We spent a fun day making the best blackberry jam ever and brought jars of it to granddaughters Anna and Tulia in Nebraska, plus I tucked enough jars in our trunk to share with Cincinnati family and friends.

Homemade  “summer in a jar” blackberry jam

When the winter winds howl and you open a jar of this jam, the aroma and memories of a sunny summer’s day will linger.

Measure accurately. For blackberry peach jam, substitute finely chopped, peeled peaches for some of the blackberries – 2 cups will do it.

5 cups crushed blackberries, mashed with potato masher

4 tablespoons lemon juice

1 box (1.75 oz.) dry pectin

7 cups sugar

9 jelly jars  (8 oz size)  with rings and lids, sterilized

I sterilize my jars by placing in a pot of hot water, then bringing that to a boil and continue to boil 15 minutes. I then turn the heat off but leave the jars in. For the rings and seals, don’t boil, just keep in hot water. Now some folks like to put the jars, etc. through the dishwasher and keep them hot.

Place berries, lemon juice and pectin in very large pan over high heat, stirring constantly. When mixture comes to a full boil, add sugar all at once, stirring constantly. Bring back to full hard boil, one that cannot be stirred down, again stirring constantly. Then time for 1 minute. Remove from heat and ladle into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/4” headspace at top. Wipe rims with clean, wet cloth. Place seal on top and secure with ring. Turn upside down for 5 minutes to kill any bacteria that may linger on lid and to form a vacuum seal. Turn upright. You’ll hear little “pings” as the jars cool. Press your finger in the center of the seal. You should not be able to push the center up & down if the seal is complete. If it’s not, just store those in the frig. The others can be stored in the pantry for up to a year.

Freezer Blackberry Jam

3 cups crushed berries (about 2-1/4 lb or 6, 6-oz containers)
5-1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
6 Tbsp  Pectin
6  (8 oz) Freezer Jars or 8 oz half pint glass jars with lids and bands

PLACE prepared fruit* in a large bowl. Add sugar, mixing thoroughly. Let stand 10 minutes.
COMBINE water and  Pectin in a small saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute, continuing to stir.
ADD cooked pectin mixture to fruit mixture stir for 3 minutes.
LADLE freezer jam into clean freezer jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Apply caps and let jam stand in refrigerator until set, but no longer than 24 hours. Serve immediately, refrigerate up to 3 weeks or freeze up to 1 year.

*To Prepare Blackberries: Crush one layer at a time using a potato masher.

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