I remember childhood summers picking blackberries. We lived where it was cold most of the time on a small coastal town and the blackberries were usually ripe right around August. We would turn our hands purple and eat as many as we could before being told to put them in the bucket as well. We would end of with scratches all up our arms from trying to wiggle past the blackberry thorns because you know the best ones are hidden in the middle where there are the most thorns. No store bought berries have ever been able to replicate the taste of warm fresh blackberries off the vine. I always end up like Goldilock’s, too bitter, too hard, not ripe enough. The price you pay for blackberries in the store is horrible for the quality you get. Anyone who has ever eaten fresh blackberries knows this.
I was on FB the other day and an advertisement on a farm I follow mentioned blackberry u-picking. In other words I pay someone else to let me pick their blackberries. Seems like a funny concept but it is one I love. Memories of my childhood popped back up and I was begging R to take me. He is usually on board with my crazy schemes so he agreed and an Apple Hill trek was set into motion.
I waited for the weekend like I was a kid eagerly anticipating their birthday. Counting down the days. Reminding R constantly.
Now I am not used to going to Apple Hill except for fall, but it is one of my favorite places so I love an excuses to go. First stop on our Apple Hill trek was my favorite year round farmers market and apple stand. They do hard cider tasting and I really wanted to try some.
Plus I had to try a blackberry dumpling. It was well worth the calories consumed. So damn good.
Then it was off in the boonies where we found the small little farm we were looking for. Sweet lady told us that the blackberry bushes are thorn-less and three rows of them to pick at our leisure. She reminded us that if we had to pull on the blackberry to come off, it wasn’t ready but if it slid right off, it was good to go. We set out with our green buckets to the back of the property.
There is something therapeutic about picking blackberries in the sunshine. I quietly picked my blackberries, focusing on if they were ripe or not and reaching to the far back without getting my arms tore up (which according to R took all the fun out of it). R worked his row and I worked mine quietly enjoying the sunshine and beautiful fresh air. Now R is a picking machine, he filled his bucket up in the same time it took me to fill mine half way up. The owner even joked about giving him a job as a part time berry picker. We ended up with 6 lbs of blackberries which was almost a flat for only $16. Well worth it!
I decided to try my hand at jam. I still need to experiment with canning one of these days but for now I figured I would just keep it fresh in the fridge. I know fresh jam can sit in the fridge for three months and so I estimated if I made two mason jars I would eat them by November. I love blackberry jam and will eat a ton of it.
So I started off with washing the blackberries really well and then mashing them up with my potato masher.
If you are every angry, mash some blackberries up, it helps. Cheap therapy.
Then I boiled them for 3 minutes stirring constantly.
Added the sugar (I added equal parts blackberry and sugar), I heard you could do honey or some kind of other sweetener and that is my next experiment but I wanted to follow directions the first time around. I also decided to add in fresh lemon juice. I just squeezed half of a fresh one in. I read on a website that: “lemon juice is high in pectin, which is needed to make jam set. pectin occurs naturally in most fruit, but some fruits have less than others. so lemon juice is often added to low-pectin fruit (eg blackberries) to make the jam set more easily.”
Then I stirred for another 3 minutes constantly. Removed from the heat and whipped the blackberries with a whisk for 3 minutes (supposedly also helps bring out the natural pectin in the blackberries). Added it to my two mason jars and let it cool on the counter before sealing to be placed in the fridge. Pretty easy! But how did it taste?
I put it on some toast last night with some fresh blackberries…
I took my first bite and moaned in pure ecstasy. Now that is the good stuff. Store bought can go to hell. Oh I predict the two mason jars will go super fast and I will need more soon but blackberry season is coming to an end sadly. Luckily I froze a huge cookie sheet of blackberries in the freezer. Useful tip that was given to me: freeze the berries on a cookie sheet first. That way they don’t clump together. Once frozen, move them to a Ziploc bag and they won’t be all frozen together in a big clump. Best tip ever!
What is your favorite fruit to make into a jam?