A Family Builds a Homestead in the Rain

Canning Blackberry Jam Without Pectin

We’ve been eating wild berries everyday for weeks, but now that blackberry season is in full swing, picking is getting more serious. In the intense dry heat, many of the blackberries are small and firm, but their flavor is intense when cooked. The aroma of simmering jam in the kitchen is intoxicating.

Many blackberry jam recipes insist on preparing small batches, but I want to make a worthwhile quantity if I’m going to the trouble of using a water bath. This recipe makes 96 ounces, or a dozen 8-ounce jars. With no added pectin and only three ingredients, this jam gels perfectly.

It makes wonderful gifts– my husband called it Friend Cement. It’s great on ice cream, on crackers with cream cheese, and, obviously, on toast.

Choose blackberries that are just-ripe, and include plenty that are a bit under-ripe. The tartness offsets the sugar and adds dynamic flavor. Overripe berries contain less natural pectin and can cause the jam to be runny.

I included the salal (round berries in the image below) we picked alongside the blackberries, amounting to a handful or so.

Blackberry Jam

Fills a dozen 8-ounce jars or eight 12-ounce jars.

14 cups blackberries, rinsed well

10 cups sugar

2 T lemon juice

1. Fill a large pot– or two if necessary to fit all of the jars– with enough water to cover jars by two inches. Place dish cloths on the bottom and along the sides of the pot to prevent the jars from touching the metal. Arrange open jars and lids in the water bath. Place over high heat, covered, to bring the water to a boil for five minutes.

2. Meanwhile, combine ingredients in another pot and place over medium-high heat. Stir regularly with a slotted spoon, crushing berries against the side of the pot until liquid covers the berries and foam rises. Then reduce heat to medium and stir only occasionally as it simmers.

3. After about 13 minutes of simmering, when the foaming subsides and bubbles become large, darker, and glossy, remove from heat and stir to mix berries and juice.

4. Place a clean dishtowel on the counter top and, using a jar-lifter, remove a jar from the water bath. Working carefully as all parts are hot, ladle jam into the jar to within a quarter-inch of the top. Use a clean towel to wipe any jam from the lip of the jar. Then use tongs to remove a lid from the water bath and place it on the jar. Loosely screw on a ring. Repeat with each jar. If the last jar is not full, let the jam cool and put it directly into the refrigerator to be used within a couple of weeks. (It won’t last that long uneaten, I promise.)

5. When all jars are full, return them to the water bath and boil for 10 minutes to seal. Then remove them– each will “pop” as the lids seal. Tighten the rings if they’re still loose. Place somewhere to rest undisturbed for a day.

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I'm Kelly. Writer, crafter, forager, country winemaker, cook. Mama of an awesome toddler and married to my best friend. We recently returned to the Pacific Northwest, where we're setting out to grow, make, and learn as much as we can as the future unfolds.

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