I've had an insatiable craving lately for homemade jam and bread. The bread thing I have down. The jam thing... not so much. I've never made jam before. But upon recommendation we found ourselves at Zimmerman's filling baskets full of berries in hopes to create our first jam. This berry farm - hidden in the valley of a beautiful range - proved to be an experience we now hope to follow every summer. The girls loved searching through the trellises for plump and vine-ripened blackberries while I sought out what remained of the raspberries. In the end, we plucked about 1.5 pounds of raspberries and over 5 pounds of blackberries.
Following the sugar to fruit ratio in The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, we created two delightful concoctions... Raspberry Nectar - replacing half the sugar called for in the recipe with honey and topping with a bit of Irish Whiskey. This jam set perfectly and I loved the ease of the authors frozen spoon method to check for doneness. Our second was Black Rose Jam - I thought of the name before I knew what I was going to do - but it came together beautifully - a little loose - but delicious. I also loved the ease of these recipes - most of the Blue Chair recipes do not call for pectin making the cooking time a bit more critical. As a new jam maker there are some lessons learned - each noted at the end of the recipe - but I am so in love with the process and the idea of endless possibility. And I would love to hear any tips you might have - I see a lot of jam in my future...
*Note: In terms of the quantities of berries - we cooked what we picked - so change amounts of ingredients based on what you pick/buy.
1.5 pounds of fresh raspberries
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. sugar
4 oz. Bushmills Irish Honey Whisky
Start by placing a plate with several metal spoons in the freezer for checking the jam later.
As we picked our berries at a farm that does not spray their plants at all - we brought home a lot of little critters on our berries. We did go through each berry to ensure the little ants and beetles didn't end up in the jam. Once picked over, combine all ingredients in a large heavy bottomed pot and stir over low heat until everything is combined.
Gradually turn up the heat to bring to a boil and continuing to stir constantly, keep the mixture at a boil for about 15 minutes. When the time has passed, take a spoon from the freezer and using an additional spoon, add some of the jam to the frozen spoon. Replace in the freezer to rest on the plate. Wait 5 minutes and remove the spoon from the freezer. The bottom of the spoon should be room temperature and if you tip the spoon, the jam should not run. If it does, cook for a bit longer and check again. When the jam is ready, can immediately. Here is a great canning tutorial.
*WHAT I WOULD CHANGE: Next time, I would add the whiskey just before checking for doneness - I felt like the flavor of the whiskey was cooked off.
BLACK ROSE JAM
5.5 lbs. blackberries
1 c. honey
2.5 lbs. sugar
4 oz. lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 c. rosewater
Combine all the ingredients in a large pot EXCEPT for the rosewater (lesson learned!) and coat evenly over medium heat. Once the sugar dissolves, slowly (yet another lesson - cranked up the heat on this one and it boiled over!) bring to a boil and stirring constantly, boil for 20 minutes. Add the rose water and boil another 5 minutes then using the spoon method above, check the jam for doneness. Jar immediately.
*WHAT I WOULD CHANGE: I think it depends on your heat - as we boiled over, we may have not allowed the jam to boil enough after we removed it from the heat to clean up our mess. In the end, this jam was runnier than the perfectly set up Raspberry Nectar - but we'll find good use for it!
Again - would love to hear your jam making tips! And in the meantime... summer jams...
Take Me Home : Golden Animals
Swamp Music : Lynyrd Skynyrd
Walk A Mile : Holly Golightly
Birds of a Feather : The Civil Wars
Blue Ridge Mountains : Fleet Foxes
Little By Little : Lay Low
Sky Open Up : The Watson Twins
Kick Drum Heart : The Avett Brothers
Maybe Mine : Good Old War
Daddy Sang Bass : Johnny Cash
Golden Bird : Levon Helm
Won't Be Me : Vetiver
Up On Cripple Creek : The Band
Moonshine Sonata : Black Oak Arkansas
Midnight Rider : The Allman Brothers Band
p.s. ALSO incredibly honored to be asked to talk about my favorite cookbooks over at 101 Cookbooks - thank you SO much Heidi!
p.p.s. and BIG NEWS - my new shop, CISTHENE will open a pop-up store tomorrow morning - sort of a teaser of what's to come in September!