After this weekend's crab apple jelly success, I decided to take advantage of a surplus of blackberries and make blackberry jelly. I've never made blackberry jelly before. Nor has my mother. Nor even the folks from whom I got the berries. Still, I like blackberries and this year's crop is particularly good (all the rain, I'm sure) so it seemed like a good idea. My sister and I went up to our cousin's farm and she borrowed one of their four wheelers to get to the berry patch. Which is less of a patch and more of everywhere along the four wheeler trails. We set to work picking berries and came out with 3 quarts, which is about what I figured we needed. Of course, our cousin gave us another bucketful because she'd been picking mostly for the sake of picking and had way more berries than she needed. It was difficult to walk away from all the berries. Everywhere I looked were big, fat, juicy, ripe blackberries.
I brought the berries home and washed them. Then I tossed them in a pot with some water and simmered them to mush. Despite how they look in the pot, they were BLACKberries when I started.
I mashed the mush, and strained it through a wire mesh sieve. It worked better than expected, and much easier than cheesecloth.
Look at all those seeds. Why on earth would anybody make jam out of these things? It wouldn't be a peanut butter and jam sandwich, it would be peanut butter and seeds. Jelly is a much better idea.
I added sugar. Lots of sugar. It's scary how much sugar is put into jams and jellies.
It's kind of cool the way the sugar absorbs some of the juice and then sort of creates a protective barrier around the rest of the sugar. It takes a lot of stirring to make it all dissolve.
Then the boiling and adding of pectin, as you'll recall from the crab apple adventure. We also have the "scary boiling up and almost over the edge of the pot." You're forced to turn the heat down, but you can't turn it down so much that it stops boiling. Very touch and go.
You'll have to remember the jelly pouring and wax pouring from the crab apple adventure, as it is most difficult to pour the jelly and take pictures at the same time. You'll also have to cross your fingers that the jelly sets up over the next couple days. Because if it doesn't, nobody will be getting any blackberry jelly good friend or not. If it does set up, it's some good jelly, I can tell you that much. I tasted it and it's superb. Sweet, sweet, sweet. Almost too sweet, but not quite. I may be forced to try another batch and boil it longer in the hopes it will set up better.
By the by, does anybody have any recipes for making juice out of this jelly juice? The juice I get for making into jelly is really more of a syrup. I think it would make a great juice for drinking, though. Same with the crap apple. Might be fun to make and can or freeze juice.
Again, I have calculated my approximate cost of making this jelly. Drum roll please: $1.50. But, that's only because I had to go out and buy more jars. If not for that, it would have been $0.50 a jar. Even at $1.50, though, it beats the grocery store prices. Now, if I can just find somebody with free raspberries, I'll be all set.