Saturday, December 4, 2010

Beautiful Blackberry Jam

I've been on this kick to make all of my Christmas gifts this year and I've been having a ball (the pun was intended for those of you who know the "ball" reference) with canning. I made the pear-apple butter, which I've enjoyed because there was a smudge of it left that I couldn't can. I had it on a toasted bagel this morning and it was yummy! For those of you who really know me, I'm not a fruit person and definitely not a fruit spread person.

Today I was at Costco and the blackberries looked really good. So I grabbed four cartons of them and headed off to my local Ace Hardware store. They have a large canning section and I picked up some nice 1/2 pint jars and a flat of cute little 1/4 pints ones too. Those will be my office gifts. I'm going to make more pear-apple butter tomorrow and more bacon jam too.

I was really surprised by how easy it was to make fresh jam and I was glad I found a recipe that didn't call for any sugar. Looking at some of the recipes (online and on the pectin box) regular jam called for so much sugar. Nearly 4 cups per batch! So I found one that used honey instead of sugar and I was sure to get the pectin for no added sugar.

Blackberry Jam

One Batch Makes About 4 1/2 Cups (only make one batch at a time as you cannot double jam and get it to thicken properly)

2 and 1/4 pounds fresh blackberries (about 8 cups)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2/3 cup honey
1 package of fruit pectin for no sugar added (like I said I got mine at my Ace Hardware store but I'm sure you can find it in your grocery store, even off season)

Prepare your jars, rings, and lids for canning and have your water bath near boiling. I got two 1/2 pints and five 1/4 pints from one batch. Or you could make two pint jars if you go through jam quickly.

Sort through, wash, and drain the berries then put them in a large pot. Take a potato masher and thoroughly mash the berries until there are no whole berries and then add the lemon juice. In another bowl mix the honey with the packet of pectin and set aside but within reach of the stove.

Put the pot on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring continuously so you don't burn it. Don't worry, if you pay attention and keep stirring burning is practically impossible. Like I said, I was really surprised by how easy it was to make.

As your mixture is boiling add the honey and pectin mixture. This will melt in and keep stirring. Once your jam has come to a vigorous boil time for about 3 minutes. I timed my boil at 4 minutes because of the altitude. Turn off the heat. The jam will be thicker but still runny.

Pour the jam into the jars, place on lids and rings and processes according to jar size. Let cool and seal. I applied labels with the ingredients listed. I think these are really pretty and the jam set up nicely because of the pectin. I actually tasted it and because there was only a small amount of honey the jam was a bit tangy and I thought tasted a bit like cherries. It was pretty good. Maybe my taste buds are changing as I'm getting older.

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