berries | blackberry | blog awards | canning | fruit | jam | lime | preserved foods | preserves | quick & easy | recipe | seasonal

Blackberries are not just smart phones.

June 6, 2012

Nowadays, it seems everyone has a “smartphone.” I came late to that party, finally caving in last July when Jay insisted on replacing my busted up old 2002-looking cell phone with an iPhone for my birthday. Honestly it has proved to be almost indispensable; especially when I broke my camera soon after and came to rely on it for blog photography purposes in addition to the convenience of on-the-go correspondence & the occasional GPS usage (and of course, addictive games, I admit; Alec Baldwin, I feel your pain). The further we move away from traditional means of communication, the more we become cavemen it seems. People can’t write a decent letter anymore, let alone spell properly. People grunt at one another instead of saying “Excuse me” or “Thank you.” We’re constantly looking at our phones to avoid human contact… and I freely admit I do it as well. Do you know how many times I’ve been hit in the ankles or butt by someone’s shopping cart because they’re looking at their phone playing Hanging With Friends or something? A LOT. And there’s never even an “I’m sorry”… it’s just a grunt. As if I’m supposed to understand that with a heated word game comes some casualties. Come on people! We can do better than that. I know this isn’t just a New York thing, either. I have a feeling this a global thing. I have a phone that’s supposedly pretty smart, as do we all, and yet we’re kind of becoming dumber & more rude instead of letting our smart phones help improve us. Ah. Humans. This is just another reason why I hate most of them.

Present company excluded, of course. My readers are exceptions to the rule. Especially since I’m feeling particularly happy; see I was just nominated for an Illuminating Blogger Award. It’s exciting to me, because any time someone recognizes you for something and takes time out of their day to acknowledge you, it’s flattering. So thank you, CJ, for the nomination on my story in this post. I, in turn, nominated the following blogs: Tania – Love Big, Bake Often, Yoyo – Topstitch, Xenia –Raised by Culture, Dana –Hot Pink Apron and Ariana –The Remi Project. This group of ladies have inspired me so much in recent months. From the three I’ve known the longest (over 8+ years), Yoyo, Ari & Xenia, who are three of the most kind, generous, loving and talented ladies I know, to Tania whom while I only know her for 3-4 years now I’ve seen that she is an amazing example of a strong & loving Military wife & mother, to Dana who I just found recently via Instagram who’s inspired me with her strength, grace & positivity after being diagnosed with/operated on for Thyroid cancer… they all deserve this award, maybe even more than I do.

So save for a few select people, it seems most of humanity has lost their sense of politeness and lost touch with reality in favor of the internet reality or reality TV. However, I for one still send thank you notes, handwritten Christmas cards and sometimes random little cards just to say “I’m thinking of you.” Yes, I own real pens and real stationary, and sealing wax and return address labels too. And some fancy rubber stamps. Writing is a lost art, it seems, and I’m determined to not completely become a technologically dependent freak. Don’t let the nose ring and partially shaved head fool you- I’m pretty old fashioned. I’m an old soul. I still go to the actual store to buy things more than I order them on the internet, and I like actual bookstores. Yes, I still write out checks too. Not everything has to be done online!

Perhaps that’s a silly thing to write on a blog, where people are coming to find recipes… online. *cough* Anyway.

Where were we? Right. Blackberries. So I’m fully aware most people today think of phones when you say ‘blackberry’ and not the fruit. I probably would myself, were it not for this blog & the boxes of assorted Ball® jars in my kitchen. A few years ago, I most certainly associated blackberries with AT&T as opposed to Mother Nature. But things have changed, my friends, things have changed. Blackberries now to me represent a variety of options for pie fillings, jams, jellies, yogurt toppings, etc. And when you’ve got those plump black pretties above and these round green pretties below…

Well then things get interesting. So why not combine the two? The lime cuts through the sweetness of the blackberries and adds something new to a plain old jam. Plus, I’ve been lurking around Hitchhiking to Heaven for a while now, admiring her recipes & wanting to try one.

SMALL BATCH BLACKBERRY-LIME JAM (adapted from Hitchhiking to Heaven)

Yields about 2 or 3 8-0z. or half pint jars; I got only 2 but I used not quite 1 ½ lbs of berries


  • 2 cups mashed blackberries (roughly 1 ½- 2 lbs. of whole berries)
  • the zest of 1 lime, minced
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice


  1. Zest the lime and finely mince the zest. Squeeze the zested lime and set aside 2 tablespoons of juice.
  2. Add the 2 cups of the berries into your jam pot. Add the lime zest & lime juice to the berries in your jam pot. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Fold in the sugar. Stir the mixture vigorously for 1-2 minutes. Return to the mixture to a boil and remove it from the heat. Test for set. It’s most likely perfect; blackberry seeds have a ton of natural pectin, you don’t want to make it like glue by cooking it relentlessly.
  4. Ladle the hot jam into your sterilized jars, leaving ¼”-inch head space. Process 10 minutes in a water bath canner, or refrigerate and use immediately.

Note: I do not seed my blackberries. I use them seeds & all. I think the added texture is kinda interesting. But if you’re using wild blackberries apparently the seeds are crazy crunchy and you might want to get rid of ’em. If I see any large seeds or funky stuff when I’m mashing, then I remove it. If you remove all your seeds, I’d suggest adding some pectin. I think loose jam is just fine, anyway, but if you like a firmer set you might want to use Pomona’s Universal pectin, 1 ½ teaspoons pectin powder and 1 ½ teaspoons calcium water, as per the original recipe author’s directions.

Like I said above, I got two half-pint jars, and one came up about a ¼” short of the allowed headspace. If you use a full 2 lbs. berries you’ll get a little more. Just to be on the safe side, I’d sanitize three half-pint jars and one 4-oz. jar. That way you’re ready for anything. Also, have some brown paper lunch bags around. Those things are handy for anything!

I cut ’em up and use ’em to spruce up jars, I bake in ’em… you name it. They’re so versatile.

There seems to be a bit of a conflict among canners re: using commercial pectin. I’m fairly new to canning, so maybe my opinion on it doesn’t mean much. But that never stopped me before. The way I see it is, one of the greatest things about advancements in canning (aside from no more paraffin wax sealant) is commercial pectin, and how it’s available in low-sugar or no-sugar varieties, or, like Pomona’s, varieties that can be used both ways. Its pretty great. Our great great great great grandma’s, when they made jam or jelly (if yours did, which most of mine probably didn’t), had to stir and cook it for hours and hours to get a set. They had to use apple cores and citrus seeds/pith and slave over boiling fruits that used pounds of sugar to gel. But we don’t have to, and I don’t see a reason to. So take advantage of it. Unless you really have a high sensitivity to it & can taste it, there is no reason to avoid it like the plague. I love advancements. I mean, if we all went back 100% to the old ways of doing things… none of us would be using the internet, either. And I don’t exactly see that happening anytime soon. Just because something is old fashioned or “original” doesn’t make it better. So yeah. Go ahead and use the damn powdered pectin, or the Certo. No one’s going to kill you, or really care. And if the final product tastes good it’s especially a moot point either way. (Pssst.. if you’re really still against it, go get the recipe & make your own natural apple pectin)

But more important than a conflict over pectin… let’s all promise to be a little better to our fellow humans. I know it’s hard, and you’re busy- we all are. But how about we put down the phones and actually interact a few times a day more than usual, k?

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  1. Well this, this is just spectacular.
    Thanks, darling! I’m proud and honoured to be part of this gang. Keep up the awesome! xo

  2. Yoyo: that’s so sweet of you. Remi’s story was just so hugely inspiring to me. I love Ari because of many reasons one of which is her big heart. Same with you <3 ... & haha @ hoored. Autocorrect sucks.

    Dana: You're welcome, & same to you! ;D side note- I love me some hot pink aprons myself. Or hot pink anything, really...

  3. Remi & I are madly in love with you right now! Thank you so much for nominating us…for anything lol!

    We went ahead and did the same for you because you truly are one of a kind Rilla! Not to mention you’ve been PLENTY of help for our cause on raising Remi! <3

    Don't forget to visit the site again and post your comment
    I'm sure you don't have to repost all of this on your site lol <3

  4. It’s funny you mention interacting with people; I’ve been talking to my coworkers less and less since the group was started on FB lol! And weird that my boyfriend and I very recently had a conversation about how people are regressing into cavemen because of technology! And of course, yummy preserves! That’s one thing I’ve never tried!

  5. LOL!! That group is just AWESOME. I can’t think of a better word. How will I ever catch up on my pending blog entries when I want to read everyone else’s??

    OH! Speaking of, I went into — your art is beautiful! My favorite is the pink illustration of yourself. “Beating batter and people with whisks since 2007”! PRICELESS!! Best thing I’ve heard all day LOL

  6. I’ve gotten so used to Facebook that I wanted to “LIKE” the topic. I would love to learn to make my own preserves. I’ve always liked the chunky kind…always a pleasant surprise to find a berry in the jelly jar. LOL

  7. It’s SO easy once you learn how! I always thought it was so hard, I was scared to try it. But once you get yourself the materials and a good book to learn from… it’s a piece of cake! I love learning new things, and this has been one of the most fun “new things” I’ve learned in a long time.

  8. I’m sure you could use coconut sugar with no problem. I’m sure any kind of sugar would work, so long as you use the right amount. It’ll change the color, probably, but that shouldn’t effect the taste. Enjoy!

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