Summer is my favorite time of the year for fruit. Plums, peaches, cherries, nectarines, and, my favorite, berries. All of them.
Berries are one fruit that are now available all year ’round. However, I tend to eat them only seasonally. The fruit sold in the winter not only has little taste but is generally shipped from South America; a very heavy carbon footprint.
Of course, one age-old way to hold on to that summer flavor is to make preserves. So, that’s what I did.
Now, on to the recipe
A couple of notes:
1. You can use any combination of berries you like in this recipe. Just make sure you have 9 cups total. I used the four most commonly seen in the grocery, but if you find/have gooseberries, boysenberries, etc., you can use those as well.
2. Always buy extra. This is to take into account bad berries, trimming, and any that you eat along the way.
3. Check the date on the pectin. You want to be sure it’s good. If it’s out of date, buy new.
4. To get a full explanation of the hows and whys of canning, please read my post from August 10, 2012, “Classic Strawberry Jam”.
Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries.
9 cups total fresh berries, trimmed, picked through, and washed (For this recipe I used 3 c. strawberries, 2 c. blackberries, 2 c. blueberries, 2 c. raspberries)
6 tbsp. powdered pectin
1/4 c. lemon juice
6 c. sugar
1. Wash the jars, lids, and rims in hot soapy water. Place the jars in a large stockpot of boiling water to sterilize them. Leave them in the boiling water, topping it off as needed (you need at least 1″ water above the tops of the jars). Place the lids into a small saucepan. Bring the water just to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and let the water simmer. The rims don’t need to be sterilized.
2. In a large saucepan, take the berries, 1/4 at a time and crush them with a potato masher. It’s OK if there are some large pieces. You don’t need to mash the berries smooth.
Crushing the berries.
3. Add the lemon juice and the pectin. Stir until the pectin has dissolved.
Adding the pectin and lemon.
The crushed berries, pectin, and lemon mixed together. And, we’re ready to go.
4. Place the saucepan over medium heat and, stirring frequently, bring the mixture to a rolling boil. (You want it to come back to a boil immediately after stirring.)
A rolling boil.
5. Add the sugar and stir until it’s dissolved.
Adding the sugar.
The sugar dissolved and the jam beginning to take shape.
Continue stirring frequently until the mixture again comes to a rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute.
Another rolling boil.
6. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Carefully skim the foam from the top of the jam.
Skimming the foam from the jam.
7. Take the jars from the boiling water and drain. Carefully ladle the jam into the jars, leaving 1/4″ of head space in the jar (use a jar gauge to make sure you’re at the right level).
Ladling the jam into the jars. Use a wide-mouth funnel. It certainly reduces mess.
Measuring the head space in the jar.
Clean the jar rims with a damp towel.
Cleaning the jar rims. If the rims have any food on them, the jars won’t seal properly.
8. Place the lids and rims (tighten them only finger tight) on the jars and place them back into the hot water. Bring the water up to the boil and process the jars for 10 minutes.
9. The jars can take up to 24 hours to seal. However, it usually doesn’t take that long. You’ll know the jars are sealed when the lid becomes concave. You’ll also hear something like a “ping” when the jar begins to seal. Once the jar is sealed, you can tighten the rim.
Ideally, let the jars sit for about 24 hours before moving them. But, as long as you let them sit until they are cool, you should be fine.
If the jar doesn’t seal, put it in the fridge and eat the jam within 2 – 3 weeks. You can also remove the contents from the jar, wash it and the rim, discard the lid, re-sterilize everything, fill the jar again and process. It’s up to you.
Be sure to label and date the jars.
The finished jam in sealed jars.