A Productive Morning

…and a busy kitchen. First, I made two batches of blackberry jam, for a total of 21 jars – well, 20.5 at least. Then Sean and I made “Pick-Pocket”, a pizza recipe from his “kids” cookbook. It was an excellent, if slightly late, lunch.

The two batches of jam were made similarly as far as process, while quite different in ingredients. And the process followed was very different from any jam I have made before. I started by researching a number of different blackberry jam recipes online, and then recombined as I pleased for the amount of berries, some suggestions, and my past experience with sugar and such.

The first batch I made was the more complicated, so far as ingredients go. I labeled it my “Blackberry Spice Jam”, and the spice refers to its being dosed with cinnamon and ground nutmeg. To start, I crushed 3.5 pounds of blackberries with a potato masher. I threw this on a medium-heat burner adding 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and brought to a light simmer, then added 5 cups of sugar. I also added the spice at this point: 2.5 tsp. of ground cinnamon, and 1.5 tsp. of freshly ground nutmeg. Once that reached a rolling boil I held it there for a while, till it seemed to thicken slightly. Then I added 1.5 packages of powdered regular pectin mixed in a 1/4 cup of sugar so as not to clump. I brought it back to a rolling boil (didn’t take long, not really any time at all) and then kept it there for 5 minutes, stirring.

In every batch I’ve done before, I’ve always added the sugar-pectin first, then got it to a low boil, then added the remaining sugar, and waited the long time to get it to a full boil again. And, I have typically only boiled vigorously at the end for 1 minute. That process results in much less foam while cooking, but I have found it to have much  more foam at the end – and I haven’t been thrilled by the set; admittedly, this batch is hard to compare against since I also used a lot more sugar than recent batches. The “new” process used this morning results in copious amounts of foam during the sugar-fruit heating, all of which subsided back into the jam during the rolling, five minute boil.

Back to the Blackberry Spice…

I jarred the jam, producing 9 full jars (80z.) and a half jar that I will use for sampling. A ran all through the canning pot for 8 minutes. Simple. Bummed that I was off, expecting 10 full jars. But not very – that’s still pretty close.

The second batch was “less frills”. Process was the same, as already mentioned. Crush berries. Put berries on heat with lemon juice. I also added a 1/2 cup of water, since many of my previous recipes have done so, and I was still rather annoyed by the less-than-ten-full-jars in the last batch. Thought maybe that would fill out the recipe. I added the sugar, but no spices, and heated till somewhat thickened, expecting lots of foam. There was actually much more foam this time, for whatever reason. Added the pectin-sugar mix and did the 5 minute vigorous boil, then distributed to jars and canned for the 8 minutes.

So, differences amounted to no spices and the addition of a half cup of water. And the result is a jam that is much sweeter; the spices hid the intense sweetness, I think. And due to the extra water – too much water, I suppose – the batch produced just shy of 11 full jars. Hrmmm.

The set is spectacular, whether by process or greater amounts of sugar. And it isn’t even yet the full 12 hours rest often suggested (I’ve seen 24 hours in some recipes/guides). I put the half jar of Blackberry Spice and the just-shy jar of Blackberry in the refrigerator just a short bit ago, for “sampling” later this evening. Patience, right?

In the future, I might try making it seedless, but this time I did not make any effort to do so. I think the seeds make for a nice “look” as one views through the glass, as the berries are a lighter, contrasting color to the midnight purple of the jam. We’ll see if it is distracting in the eating. I like good-looking things, of course, but good-looking means little if the “eating” is poor.

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