Category: blackberry

Triple berry jam (vegan) cakes with (vegan) cream cheese frosting.

Triple berry vegan cupcakes!

Oops, I did it again. I successfully tricked people into eating vegan cupcakes & they were none the wiser! Of course, there were a *few* tells: the texture of the cupcake, and the frosting texture of course. However taste-wise, there were no complaints!

I used that triple berry maple bourbon jam (from last month) in them, and wow. The moistness of the cupcake was just heightened with that addition. Yes, they are indeed messy though. That’s the price you pay for this kind of moist cupcake with jammy goodness.

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Triple berry maple bourbon jam.

Triple berry maple bourbon jam!

Boy, berries can be messy.

I forget this from year to year, until I have some & I’m making jam & it splatters everywhere & it looks like I’ve been doing illegal surgeries in my kitchen sink.They’re so pretty though. So I forgive them their trespasses, for they know not what they do. And they’re summery, so it stands to reason I’m ready to start using them.

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Leftover blackberry honey syrup.

Don’t you love when you’re reading an old book & the author wrote it as ‘sirop’? It’s so old timey or foreign. I know sirop is the French way of spelling syrup, but it seems that a lot of books written in the 1700’s or 1800’s write it that way, too. Makes sense since it comes from the Latin ‘siropus.’ But anything written in another language (or in an old way) is more attractive. Like, for example, this recipe would be ‘Sirop de mûres e miel’ in French. So lovely.

Are you tired of my history of language lesson yet?

Blackberries always intrigued me. I’m not a fan of the flavor of berries, let’s just get that out in the open right now. I can tolerate strawberries, but I’m not a huge fan by any means. I’m a big apple girl (both figuratively & literally- I  NY, too) and I love citrus. Berries? Nah. Not for me. But regardless, I love looking at them, touching them, cooking with them. I come from a family of berry fiends… which is good, because I get to satisfy my curiosity without wasting food. I didn’t grow up near a blackberry bramble. There are no wild berries growing in my yard, however we did have a flowering crabapple tree. My berry encounters were not on a farm or in the wild country, but supermarkets & restaurants & as the flavoring in gum. Blue raspberry anything still makes me queasy to this day, by the way.

I came up with this idea because after finishing that blackberry whateveryouwannacallit thing I made, I had some blackberries left over. Not enough to make into a jam, really, unless I made about 4 ounces, and that’s not really worth the trouble. It was pretty much a decent-sized handful of big, juicy berries. And blackberries don’t last long, as you probably know. So I figured I’d make them into a syrup using some honey.

Waste not, want not.

I didn’t use a recipe, so I honestly have no idea what measurements to tell you to use. You aren’t going to be canning this; it’s just for immediate use or storage in the refrigerator, so there’s no concern about adding acidity or the amount of sugar, etc. The more honey you add, the more syrup you’ll get. The more berries you add, the more syrup you’ll get. I made it about even, which gives a stronger berry flavor. If you have more honey than berry, the flavor will be more honey & vice versa. You get the idea.

You can use it for pancakes/waffles, you can stir a little bit into some lemonade & toss in some whole berries for a nice summer drink or use it as the base for a cocktail. I’m sure a lighter bourbon like Basil Hayden’s would be interesting mixed with a bit of this. Also, use it as a salad dressing base: mix it with a little red wine vinegar & olive oil, you’ve got yourself a blackberry honey vinaigrette. Even better, mix it with some blackberry vinegar, if you’ve got it.

Keeping all that in mind, this is what I did:

  • I rinsed off & dried the berries. Only do this right before using them, or else you’ll end up with moldy fruit.
  • I put the clean fruit into a medium saucepan and mashed them with a fork. It’s not necessary to make sure they’re completely smooshed- just enough to release a bit of juice.
  • I added about a half cup of honey (more is fine), and turned on the heat to medium-low, stirring with a wooden spoon so nothing scorches.
  • Keep stirring and gently mashing the berries, incorporating them with the honey. The mixture should be a reddish color now. Keep cooking & stirring.
  • Cook, stirring pretty frequently, until it’s reduced & thickened slightly, and it’s a dark, foamy syrup with little round berry bits & guts in it. Don’t worry, you’re straining that out.
  • Add a dash of pure vanilla extract and stir well. Almond extract works too, but nothing at all is fine. The blackberry honey flavor is enough!
  • Clean a jar, put it on a tea towel on your counter or table and place a strainer over the top. Depending on the amount of berries/honey you’re using, you might need a pint jar. Pour the mixture into the strainer little by little, pressing down with a rubber spatula to extract more syrup. When all the syrup is out of it, scoop it into the garbage and pour more of the mixture in, then repeat.
  • Once you’re finished, place a lid on the jar and let it cool. Once cooled, refrigerate or use immediately.

It’s insanely simple, and it makes use of even the smallest amount of leftover blackberries. I’m pretty sure it would work with blueberries or raspberries as well.

Also? It’s pretty.

Leftover blackberry honey syrup

Blackberry breakfast whatever you wanna call it.

Whoa! Today is the last day of April! Holy balls. Where the hell has the time gone? I really don’t know, because I swear on a Weck canning jar it seems as though only last week I was making pumpkin everything. And now it’s practically May. Unbelievable. This past year has flown by for me, and I have no idea why. It just seems like once last August hit, the time just whooshed past me until all of a sudden I stopped & looked at the calendar & it was April 30th, 2013. Sheesh. Maybe it’s because I’ve had so much going on… maybe it’s just that when you reach a certain age time just starts to go by faster. Not sure. Either way, it seems to have snuck up on me.

Blackberry oat breakfast bake! Also known as a WHATEVERYOUWANNACALLIT!

And I’ve been having a bit of a rough time lately. *insert long, dramatic sigh* I feel a little lost, truthfully, and to add insult to injury this past weekend ended on a completely shitty note. Add to all of that the fact that I have a severe lack of inspiration. Food isn’t exciting me right now- and I can’t really grasp why. I’ve always been a comfort eater, and yet recently I’m kind of lackadaisical about food in general. No new recipes are calling to me, my mind is blank. I have to change that. I have to get back on my track.

Anyway, when I’m having a rough time of things, I find it’s best to do something that doesn’t require a lot of thought but provides business. And I don’t mean business, but “busy-ness.” Emphasis on the ‘y’ sound. Make your hands busy & your mind will follow, instead of harping on things you can’t change or control. So I throw a few things together to make something just to get my mind off whatever it is that’s getting me down. And every now and then I come up with something a bit… un-label-able (that is definitely NOT a word).

Black berry breakfast whateveryouwannacallit; call it a cake, call it a cobbler, call it a whatever... it's delicious & easy.

And I do that type of thing a lot; I make things that aren’t really any one thing. But it seems to get worse when I’m frustrated, or sad, or baking to busy myself. Ugh, how can I explain all of this better? Hmm. Well, for example… this isn’t a cake. Not really. And it’s not a bread- it’s too moist. It’s not a cobbler; there’s too much “dough”… and because it isn’t dense or chewy, it really can’t be described as “bars” or cookie bars. It’s just a thing. A blackberry thing, that’s excellent for breakfast. I don’t know. I did the same thing with that ginger stout cake. I STILL don’t really know what that was, I just called it a cake!

But this particular little baked item is even more puzzling.

I could just label it as a cake.

But I won’t.

Blackberry oat breakfast bake! Also known as a blackberry breakfast whateveryouwannacallit!

BLACKBERRY BREAKFAST WHATEVERYOUWANNACALLIT

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar plus 3/4 cup
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, chilled & cut into 1/2″ pieces, plus more for pan
  • zest of one organic lemon
  • 1/2 cup steel-cut oats
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 10 oz. fresh blackberries
  • 2 eggs

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350º F & grease an 8″ x 8″ baking dish with butter. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the eggs & sour cream together in a medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup of sugar, 3/4 flour and pinch of salt, and mix well. Gently stir in blackberries. Pour mixture into baking dish.
  3. Mix together the 3/4 cup flour, 3/4 cup sugar, lemon zest & butter in the bowl of a stand mixer -with the paddle attachment- until it’s crumbly & “sandy” in texture. You can also use a food processor for this, or a pastry cutter.
  4. Combine crumb mixture with oats. Sprinkle mixture on top of blackberry mixture. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until lightly browned.
  5. Let cool for 1 hour. Serve with whipped cream, because hey… why not.

Blackberry oat breakfast bake/whateveryouwannacallit. Can go from breakfast to dessert in 5 seconds; just add yogurt, vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top.

I used an 8″ x 8″ Le Creuset stoneware baking dish to make this. Pyrex also works, and I’m sure a regular metal one would work. The baking time might change a little bit, but that’s easy enough to monitor. As a matter of fact, it took a while longer to bake in my stoneware than it probably would have in a regular Pyrex or metal baking dish. Also, you can double this recipe and use a 9″ x 13″ pan, if that suits you better, however the baking time would definitely change in that case.

Blackberry & oat breakfast bake.

The whipped cream is a really mildly sweet one, which makes it perfect for breakfast… however, if you just can’t get down that way, yogurt works too. Alternately, vanilla ice cream is great when it’s being served for a dessert.

 Sources & credits: Le Creuset stoneware baker in Cassis.

Blackberry jam cupcakes with lime.

A couple of months ago, I made some blackberry lime jam. And then (true to form), in all the summer hubbub, I genuinely forgot all about it. I say “true to form” because I do that a lot. I make something that I’m dying to use, and then I forget about it. Months later, I end up finding it in the cupboard and thinking, “OH CRAP!” But it’s okay, because isn’t that why we make shelf-stable jams & jellies? So we can use them months & months & months after we make them?

So the idea I had for the jam was originally a form of thumbprint cookies. But that fell by the wayside when I imagined vanilla cupcakes with a blackberry lime jam filling, topped with some vanilla-lime buttercream. I’ve been in a cupcake-y mood again lately, it seems. And this jam is really beautiful. Pardon my photography skills (and the possible overload of photos in this post), these shots were taken on my birthday gift, a.k.a. my new camera, so I’m still playing around with settings.

While I’m on the subject of cupcakes, I’d like to introduce you all to my new “blog adoptee” for lack of a better term. Meet Cathy, everyone! Her blog is new, it’s called Legalized Frostitution, and she’s asked me to help her navigate the sometimes stormy seas of the blog world. She joins the ranks of the lovely Amanda, my first blog adoptee whom I will love for always & forever stalk on Instagram. Cathy is awesome- she said some really sweet things about me (flattery will get you everywhere, take note *wink*) and you should all bookmark her blog or whatever it is you crazy kids do nowadays. Like Amanda, she’s about to realize I really have no idea what the hell I’m talking about; I just like to read my own writing & take pretty pictures. Heh. Welcome to the fold, Cathy. I wish you much blogging success!

Anyway, I adapted a cupcake recipe to make about a half-dozen (it made 8, actually) so I didn’t have a surplus of cupcakes. Plus, I didn’t want to use up ALL the jam. I was originally going to swirl the jam into the batter, but then I ended up just “filling” the batter with a teaspoon/teaspoon and a half of jam. You can’t see it from the outside, but it’s there. You could swirl it if you wanted to create a nice visual effect (or if you’re not using frosting), but I figured the frosting would just cover it so it was a waste.

Anyway, because the recipe is quartered, you can double/triple/quadruple it with excellent results.

BLACKBERRY JAM CUPCAKES WITH LIME

Makes about 6-8 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I used Rodelle, my new favorite)
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • Blackberry lime jam

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into large bowl. Set aside. Beat butter and oil in a separate medium bowl. Add eggs; blend.
  3. Whisk in buttermilk, milk, & vanilla extract. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients; whisk just to blend.
  4. Divide batter among liners, adding about 2-3 teaspoons of batter, then 1-2 teaspoons of jam, then 2-3 more teaspoons of batter on top.
  5. Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to racks; cool.

VANILLA-LIME BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening (preferably Crisco)
  • 1 lb. confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • the zest of one lime; half finely grated, half left on the larger side (for topping)

Directions:

  1. Beat butter & shortening until light and fluffy.
  2. With mixer on low speed, gradually add powdered sugar. Add milk & vanilla and mix until very smooth. Adjust depending on preference- add more sugar to thicken, more milk to soften.
  3. Add the finely grated lime zest, beat until incorporated. Frost cupcakes & top with the rest of the lime zest.

So I just frosted the cooled cupcakes with a large closed star tip, leaving an opening in the middle. I filled the opening with a dollop (isn’t that a great word- DOLLOP) of jam, and then grated some more lime zest on top. My jam happened to have some larger almost-whole blackberry chunks, which was perfect.

Look at this sweet little sunset-bathed blackberry lime cupcake.

Okay so here’s the deal. If you don’t want to make the jam, you can 100% use fresh blackberries; just plop a berry in the middle of each cupcake where the jam would go. Then plop another one on top, after it’s frosted, also where the jam would go. And then just grate the lime zest over it. You can actually use any kind of jam or berry you want, in theory. Lemon zest goes well with blueberry & strawberry, orange goes nicely with raspberry. Even marmalade would be nice, like a creamsicle cupcake. I’ve made lemon marmalade cupcakes before, but not orange. Hm.

Say hello to He Who Must Not Be Named (Harry Potter reference!). He’s fairly new- he just got here in February & he hasn’t gotten a lot of face-time, unlike Lola, who is basically the dominatrix/queen of everything around here. But he’s mega spiffy with his skull & crossbones sticker. And he wanted to say hi. So hi. Also, he’s a KitchenAid 9-Speed digital Architect model. Just in case you were wondering.

And that’s that. Now… on to the 600 other jars of jam I have in here.

Sources & credits: Ikea black bowl, Ikea cupcake tea towel, vintage silverware, Ball® 8-oz. crystal quilted jars can be purchased at freshpreserving.com.

Blackberries are not just smart phones.

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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  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?

Alright, we’re jammin’, & I hope you like jammin’ too.

I’ll be honest- if these posts weren’t already written and ready, I probably would not be back to posting. But they are, so I figured why not. I don’t think it’s being disrespectful to my grandmother’s memory to keep blogging this soon after her passing, especially since it gives me something to look forward to & also because she loved my blog. And as devastated as I am, like I said, these posts were already written (I just heavily edited some). So on we go on this blogging journey. Hopefully at some point this summer, I’ll get back to the baking, as soon as the weather cools down just a bit (103° degrees is a bit hot for cupcakes, A/C or not).

Awhile back, in early July, I had some overripe peaches I bought and forgot about, as well as some blackberries & raspberries left over from previous baking exploits & I decided to just make a quick little one-jar jam with them, a preserved one, so that in a few months when these beautiful fruits aren’t in season or aren’t looking as nice in the produce department as they do now, at least we’d have something to hang on to. Summer seems to by flying by so fast, I thought it might be before I know it that we might need this. Something to remind us that summer was indeed here, despite the falling leaves or snow or whatever. But then I realized it probably wouldn’t even last that long! While I was at it, I made some sliced peaches. But we’ll talk about that later.

My labels rock, I know this.

Me: “Hi, I’m Marilla, and I’m addicted to canning.”

Canner’s Anonymous Group: “Hi Marilla…”

In all seriousness, the fruit would’ve just gone bad anyway. And then it would’ve been thrown away. So not only am I extending the tastes of summer (sort of), I’m being responsible about not  letting fruit just sit & rot when it’s been forgotten about. And that tends to happen here; berries get pushed to the back of the fridge, etc, etc. The squirrels love me, though, because most of it gets tossed into the yard & they happily munch on it. Hence, a half-eaten apple perched on a branch in my Dogwood tree last week. However, it really is not my main job to make sure the squirrels here have a balanced diet with lots of fresh fruits. So I will jar as much as possible before it has a chance to go bad! And you should too. It’s fun, and easy, and once you start you won’t be able to stop. So go get started.

Okay so… I lied. It really isn’t ONE jar jam. It’s more like, a pint jar and a half jam.  So if you’ve got pint and half-pint jars, you’re in luck. If not, then I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not quite at the stage where I feel comfortable mucking around with canning recipes, especially jam, because when you double/triple them I’ve heard trouble starts. So that’s on you. I’m usually a rebel (“I’m a loner, Dottie, a rebel…”) but being that I’m a total n00b to the world of canning, I’ll wait until I’m a bit more experienced before messing with shit. But you could always put the extra half-pint in an empty jar, not process it and refrigerate it once it cools, using it immediately. Basically I had two extra pint jars sanitized from my pickles, so I wanted to use them. The half-pint ones were just bonuses (that were promptly given away to random lucky recipients). I made them the same night as my pickles, proving they are indeed super fast & easy because I’d already made 5 jars of pickles, plus a full dinner (pasta with pesto sauce… yum) by the time I made these. And I’m pretty freakin’ bionic, but even I have my limits. So trust me- it’s easy.

I’m assuming in writing this that you already know the very basics of canning. If not, please check out The National Center for Food Preservation‘s website & get some background first. You most definitely can can anything, but you have to know how to do it & have the right equipment for it. Besides, I ain’t no master-canner! But this recipe doesn’t require a whole lot of experience, anyone with the proper equipment can do it.

PEACH-BLACKBERRY-RASPBERRY JAM

Ingredients:

  • 1 ⅓ cups fruit, combination of blackberries, peaches & raspberries (crush the berries, finely chop the peaches)
  • 0.4 ounces of Ball® RealFruit™ Classic Pectin (or whatever pectin you prefer, just remember some require different processing!!)
  • 1 ⅔ cups granulated sugar (or 1 cup, for reduced-sugar jam)
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Sanitize jars and lids, and keep them hot, either in a pot of simmering water or dishwasher. Combine fruit with lemon juice in 8-quart saucepan. Gradually add pectin, and bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly.
  2. Add sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat & skim foam if necessary.
  3. Ladle the hot jam into hot jars, one at a time, leaving ¼” headspace. Wipe rims. Center lids on jars, apply bands, and adjust to “fingertip tight.”
  4. Place filled jars in canning rack, and then in large pot ensuring that jars are covered by 1-2″ of water. Bring water to a gentle, steady boil.
  5. Process jars for 10 minutes, adjusting for your altitude. Turn off heat and let jars stand for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours, if center of lid is pressed it should not move up and down. If it does, you can refrigerate immediately and still enjoy it, but you can’t keep it for long as it isn’t properly sealed.
  7. Clean and store jars accordingly, preferably in a cool, dark place.

Okay so, I got my pectin free with my canning kit. Like I said, this is a little recipe of my own invention using the guidelines on the pectin package, and it was my first time canning a jam. If you use another type of pectin, please be sure to check the processing requirements first as they may be different. I did not “seed” the berries, because I felt like it didn’t matter. Plus, the seeds add an interesting texture, I think. And they look pretty in the jar- look at the picture above; it’s like little jam fireflies. Adorable. Of course, if you’re anti-seeds, feel free to strain ‘em out. It’s totally up to you. So is the amount of each fruit. Use any variation thereof, or eliminate one altogether. Although I happen to think that triad is pretty spiffy myself; you could try putting in strawberries or blueberries too.

Just to alleviate any stress, the peaches will rise to the top if they’re in chunks & not completely crushed, this is normal for peaches. Something about the pectin level of the peaches is lower than the “jammier” part, plus there’s air in the fruit, so they float. Blah, blah. It all tastes the same so why care!? When you open the jam to use it, give it a stir to incorporate the peaches & it’ll be fine. It’s a really pretty looking jam, and it’s pretty nice on the taste buds too. The half-pint jar of this jam was given to/eaten by my grandmother, and in her words “I didn’t know whether to eat it or stare at it.”

Needless to say, she definitely ate it. On a piece of bread with a cup of hot tea. And she loved it. And I am so glad she did, because it gives me happiness & comfort to know I made her happy. Gawd, I miss her. Terribly.

See? Look at the bottom. Sneaky goddamn floating peaches!

The other jar went to my aunt Marilyn, who eats it everyday, sometimes twice a day on bagels, bread, toast, etc. She totally raved about it, and made my father jealous because he didn’t end up with any. Oops.

And like I said, I also made some sliced canned peaches in a light syrup. I got the recipe from here, and the best thing for me to tell you is to go there and find out yourself, instead of me re-writing it here. They say it better, plus, only you know how much you want to make or can make. I had three peaches left after the above jam (I used one) and it made another pint and a half of sliced peaches. I also did not use the Fruit-Fresh, just lemon juice, and my peaches were beautiful with no signs of browning. I packed the jars super tight, so my syrup had a hard time getting into some of the air pockets, but as the peaches sit they’ll seep out moisture & the syrup will thicken anyway, so those air pockets probably won’t even be there when I open the jar, whenever that is. And again, keep in mind what I said above about the floating, also; the bubbles are totally cool. As long as the seal is good, you’re golden. I’m no expert, but I looked into it & while there are some alarmists, there seems to be no reason at all why a little bit of air is a problem. Besides, as the jar seals some will escape, you’ll see the bubbles moving up, and everything will settle as well. When people try & avoid them, it’s mainly just an aesthetic thing. And nobody’s perfect, so really, what’s a few air bubbles among friends? But really, these photos above were taken not long after they were processed, so the bubbles are really apparent. A few days later, you couldn’t see many air bubbles, as I assume they all rose to the top. See below.

About 4-5 days later, everything settled. Peaches still be floatin’ though!

Yeah, the air pockets in the peaches were still there, obviously. But much less noticeable. A little tip from pickyourown.org that I will share here is peeling peaches. So easy, I wish I’d thought of it! Simply cut a shallow X in the bottom of the peaches, then dip them in a pot of boiling water for 25-45 seconds each, and remove them with a slotted spoon and plunge them into a bowl of ice water for a few minutes. When you take them out, the skin should just literally slide right off with no trouble. If not, then your peaches aren’t ripe enough. Let them sit a few days & try it again, or peel them with a vegetable peeler if you really want to can them immediately. Like I said, my peaches were on the overripe side, so I had no problem with the skin coming off. And also, you don’t need to peel them, you can can them with the fuzz on too. It’s just some people prefer not to taste the ‘preserved’ fuzz. Preserved fuzz actually sounds gross.

And don’t forget- August 13 is National Can-It-Forward Day! And P.S. if you’re a family member or close friend of mine… guess what you’re getting for Christmas. Especially now that since it’s so hot, all I can do is can/jar to take my mind off things & keep busy. Plus, my 30th birthday is in three days and I’m basically miserable with a kitchen full of canned items, which my friend Chrisie says I should use as the title for a book on coping with grief & canning/preserving my way through it. And I just might write that book.

But life goes on. C’est la Vie, right?