Friday, August 22, 2014

Blackberry Jelly Whether I Like It Or Not

We have lots of wild things that grow around here. 

I say wild, but most likely, someone planted them within the last 100 years and they've been left to their own devices.  Sometimes, we have more Concord grapes than a Welch's factory.  Other years, it's the blueberries that stain my picking hands.

And this year, it was the blackberries.  I want to like them, but their little seeds always hang around in my teeth and they are so bitter that they ruin any pleasure the berries might have supplied.

I know this from way too many summers of getting excited about them and eating them and instantly regretting that decision as I chomp seeds.

But this year, the amount of blackberries just standing at reachable levels was obscene.  I ignored them for a while and then I decided I had to figure out something to do with them. 

Because when life gives you blackberries, you really can't ignore them.

Within 20 minutes, I had 6 cups of berries. I didn't even have to try.  They jumped right into the colander.

I found a recipe for making blackberry jelly and I decided today was the today to try making jelly.  I was mystified that I could just boil them and not use a pressure cooker.  I'm not a canning expert, but I've always used the pressure cooker.

I decided that I would try using the huge pot that I bought for the lobster/steamers dinner that we had when my sister was here.  Yet another use for it and for the huge outdoor burner we bought for it.

Since the pot is so big, I can't fill it in the house, so I did the next best thing.

I truly don't know how we would exist without the outdoor shower.

To make the jelly, first you must boil the berries to extract the juice.  All 6 cups of berries boiled down to 3 cups. 

And then you pour it through cheesecloth to get just the juice.  You're left with this pile of pulp.  I really couldn't decide what to do with it, but since it's full of those seeds I love so much, I decided to just throw it in the compost.

After boiling the juice and sugar to make it thick enough, I canned them and got a whopping 4 half pint jars.

I had cut the recipe in half because I didn't have enough berries after the first picking but I wanted to try out the whole making jelly thing before I went any further.  It worked exactly as it should have.

One of the bonuses of the big pot is the insert that came with it.  You can see it in the picture above.  I put the jars in it in the kitchen and took it out to the patio and lowered it into the water.  It has great handles for lifting and the best part is the little feet.  When I'm done, I get some heavy duty tongs to pull it out and then I can set it right on the patio, on its little feet, to cool.

The hardest part for me is getting the water to boil just as I'm ready for it to.  I spent a lot of time waiting for the juice to boil down and for the water for the canning to boil.

Since we still had a ridiculous amount of berries on the vines, I enlisted the help of k-ster, who was really the instigator of this whole thing because he said I should make jelly out of them.

This venture was slightly more difficult because the berries were a little more out of reach.  I thought with him being taller he could reach in better, and he could, but there were still so many out of reach.  The thorns are deadly and if you were to slip and fall into the bushes while picking, you'd be in a lot of serious trouble.

He finagled a few ways to get at the vines and when we finished, we had another 8 cups of berries. 

I went through the same process and all together, I made a dozen of the little half pint jars.

I didn't think I'd like the jelly much, so I tried it on a bagel.

I guess it wasn't so bad because I had to lick the plate clean!

And a few days later, we had another round of ripe berries.  I didn't want to buy more little jars, so I just picked some and made a cobbler.  It's good, but those seeds......

1 comment:

  1. I have never tried it, but feel free to send some my way LOL :)


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