What better to do on a beautiful breezy Sunday than play with fruit?!
I came back from visiting my parents with a gift to myself — a flat of blackberries. They are big and slightly tart, nothing like their wild cousins just starting to fill out in our blackberry patch.
So what to do after I get home and get the pork shoulder on the grill? (Oh, more on the grilling thing soon. In the meantime, check out Grilling With Rich.) I spent 30 minutes in the brambles plucking pretty black raspberries. I ended up with almost three pounds, and I should be able to get another couple of pounds before the week is up.
So after sorting over the berries (both kinds) for bugs and giving them a good rinse, I set some aside for a blackberry cobbler, a few more for eating out of hand, and the rest were drafted for jam and pie filling!
I’m using Pamona’s Pectin these days. I have had a wonderful gel with every jam I’ve made. I don’t get the same transparency that I get with Ball or no-pectin recipes, but that’s a very minor detail when compared against the ability to use less sugar in the jams. Pamona’s also works with honey, but I haven’t ventured there yet.
After crushing enough of each berry for 4 cups and measuring out 1.5 cups of sugar, 2 teaspoons of pectin powder, and 2 teaspoons of calcium water for each batch, I followed the directions on the Pamona’s box to end up with two very beautiful and very tasty batches of jam. Because they were made with less sugar, the fruits retained a bit of their tang.
This still left me with a LOT of blackberries, so to make canning them easy, I whipped out the Clear-jel (not the instant kind) to make pie filling. I use pints for my pie filling because I normally make a small crisp. A quart is just too much for two people. I’m not crazy about Clear-jel’s taste, and I alternate between canning fruits in water or syrup and canning them in the Clear-jel. The former tastes better to me because I thicken them when cooking, but the latter are definitely easier!
So the berries are preserved, and the root cellar is a little fuller. What have you been making in your kitchen lately?
*** This personal blog is comprised solely of the opinions, views, projects, and travels of its author, Stacey Morgan Smith. She is lucky enough to have loving family and friends whom she drags along with her on her adventures and whom she puts to work on her little farm. She uses this blog to help promote living in the mountains of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, from Roanoke to the Potomac River.**