Monday, August 26, 2013

Oregon Berry Jam

Something that amazed me when I first moved to Oregon, blackberries grow everywhere.  Along every highway, in every park, come August those prickly brambles are covered in sweet berries.   Owen and I had picked blueberries at a local farm recently and for some weird reason my strawberry plants decided to give me another round of berries in August.  Using the 3 berries I made super yummy jam.  If you haven't made jam before, this recipe is simple and delicious. I am giving directions to preserve the jam, but you could also skip all the canning steps and put it in the fridge without preserving and use immediately.

Ingredients and Supplies:
1 big stock pot or water bath canner
canning rack or silverware (I'll explain later)
canning jar grabber or kitchen tongs
a ladle or measuring cup to scoop jam
1 large sauce pan
kitchen towels
4 half-pint canning jars
4 new lids and bands for canning jars

2 cups blackberries
1 cup blueberries
1cup strawberries
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon citrus juice (I used 2 key limes, but lemons, regular limes or orange would work)
3 tablespoons classic pectin

Get prepared first.

1.  Fill the stock pot with water.  Place canning rack on bottom to keep jars from resting directly on the bottom of your pot.  If you do not have a canning rack throw your stainless steel silverware in the bottom of the pot.  I wouldn't recommend do this with Grandma's silver, but I love any trick that uses what I have and keeps me from investing in a one trick item.  Add your clean jars, lids and rims to the pot and turn on high to bring to a boil.  The water level should remain a few inches above the jars. After it reaches boiling, shut off the heat and cover.  Let the jars and lids hang out in there until you are ready for them.

2.  Prepare the fruit.  I don't like my jam too seedy.  So I crush the blackberries into a sieve over a bowl.  Keep forcing them through with a potato masher until juice and fruit is no longer coming through the sieve.  This should give you about 1 cup of blackberry juice.

3.  Add strawberries and blueberries to the bowl and crush lightly.  I do not force these through the sieve.  You want 3 cups of fruit total.

4.  In your large sauce pan squeeze your citrus juice.  I like to do this into an empty pan because then its easy to remove any seeds that get by you.

5.  Measure out your sugar and have it on the side, ready to go.

6.  Add the fruit and while stirring add the pectin.  Turn on the fruit mixture to high and bring to a boil. 

7.   Add sugar, stirring until dissolved.  Bring to a boil again and boil 1 minute.  To check if it is done dip a spoon in and swipe your finger through it (it will be hot, you know, boiling sugar and all).  If it forms and line and holds that line, it's ready.

8.  If you don't plan on preserving, congratulations, you are done and have lovely jam.

9.  To preserve:  carefully pull jars, lids and rings out of boiling water using the canning jar grabber or tongs and place on a clean kitchen towel.

10.  The jam may have "foam" on top.  This is edible, but often skimmed off using a spoon so the jam remains pretty and translucent.  To skim or not to skim is totally up to you.   Using a towel to protect your hands, ladle the jam into the jars until they are nearly full, about 1/4 inch from the top.

11.   Use a damp towel to wipe away all the jam from the top of the jar.  Anything on or around the top of the jar will impede the seal of the jars.  Once you are sure its clean, add the lids and rings as tight as you can.

12.  Return to stock pot/water bath and turn on the heat to high and bring to boil again.  Once it is boiling, start timing--10 minutes.

13.  When 10 minutes is complete, place jars, upside down on a clean towel to cool.  Leave them there for a while so everyone can admire how crafty you are.
I only have 3 because I spilled a jar into the sink, oh, clumsy me. 

14.  Before storing check the seals.  Sometimes you will even hear them pop.  When you press on the top they should be sucked down and not flex at all.  If any jars didn't seal just put them in the fridge for immediate use. 


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