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Blackberry Jam

(recipe, Caroline Cummins)


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Introduction

You can make jam with frozen berries, but I prefer making a small batch of this jam in late summer, when the berries are at their freshest. I also happen to like seeds in my jam, so I don't bother trying to strain them out.

Ingredients

  1. 5 lb. (8 pints) blackberries, rinsed and drained (see Note, below)
  2. 4 cups sugar (see Note, below)
  3. 1 tsp. ginger (fresh or powdered; optional)
  4. 1 Tbsp. pectin (optional)
  5. 5 Tbsp. lemon juice (bottled is fine)

Steps

  1. Put all the ingredients into a large pot, stir them gently together, and let macerate for about 10 minutes.
  2. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has broken down, liquefied, and reduced, about 1 hour to 90 minutes.
  3. Test to see if the jam is setting by dolloping a small amount onto a ceramic plate, sticking the plate in the fridge for a few minutes, then checking to see if a fingertip run through the chilled jam leaves a firm division in the jam. If the jam is still too liquid, continue simmering and stirring for another 20 minutes or so and test it again.
  4. Store the jam in sterilized jars in the freezer, or can it in a water bath.

Note

For a more complex flavor, I sometimes use 6 pints blackberries and 2 pints strawberries and/or raspberries. I also like mixing up the sweeteners; try 3½ cups evaporated granulated sugar with ½ cup honey. If you're using fresh (preferably unsprayed/organic) lemons for the juice, cut thin, small strips of lemon rind and cook them along with the jam. They’ll candy in the jam and provide bright, citrusy, chewy bursts in the finished jam. This jam is less sweet than most, but more sweet than some, including Mark Bittman's extremely scanty-on-the-sugar version. Feel free to play around with the sugar level to find the sweet-to-tart ratio you like best.