The blackberry bushes that line the alley behind our house are huge, growing aggressively taller and narrowing the roadway each day. They are one of my favorite parts of living where I do– luckily for me, none of my neighbors seem at all interested in the fruit, though one brave soul heads out to hack them back now and again, presumably to get a car through, but maybe just for stress therapy. Anticipating the cuts, we take a container with us on the nightly dog walk and pick what we can. The berries have been slow to ripen this year; our first few picks yielded small, tart fruit. They probably weren’t ripe, but we were excited enough to see them that we (valiantly) snacked anyway. Yesterday, with a fresh crop of juicy, much sweeter berries on hand, I decided to make the remaining few cups worth of early berries into jam. I plan to make a huge batch of blackberry jam soon, so elected to do a mixed berry jam yesterday with some lovely, fragrant raspberries we got at the market on Saturday and a few cups of black cherry juice I was worried about losing. I love this jam! Raspberry is the dominant flavor and the cherry juice is faintly tasted, at best, but the color is gorgeous. It’s a great way to use up odds and ends of berries; I think blueberries, marionberries, tayberries, etc. would be very much at home in the mix. And so, onto the annual jam plan this goes.
Raspberry-Blackberry-Cherry Jam (makes about 10 half-pints)
- 6 c. raspberries
- 2 c. blackberries
- 2 c. black cherry juice*
- 1/4 c. lemon juice
- zest of one lemon
- 2 T. calcium water (included in the box with Pomona’s pectin)
- 2 T. Pomona’s universal pectin
- 5 c. sugar, separated
Prepare your water bath and have your jars and lids sterilized and ready to go. In a large, shallow jam pan, Dutch oven or equivalent, combine the berries, cherry juice, lemon juice, zest, calcium water and 4 c. sugar. In a small bowl, mix together the pectin and remaining cup of sugar and set aside. Over medium-high heat, stir the fruit mixture until it boils, about 10-20 mins. depending on your pan (and stove). You can mash the fruit if you like during this initial stage of cooking, but I found that all my fruit broke down on its own. When you have a full, rolling boil that can not be stirred down, quickly stream in the pectin and sugar mix, stirring vigorously to quickly incorporate it. Maintain a rolling boil and stir constantly as the jam thickens to prevent burning/sticking; I was happy with the consistency after 10 mins., knowing that it would continue to set during cooling. When you have your desired consistency, carefully ladle hot jam into sterilized jars, wipe the rims with a clean cloth, affix lids and rings and water bath process for 10 mins. Remove the jars from the hot water and rest them on a towel-lined counter overnight; check to see that your jars have sealed and refrigerate any that did not. This jam should keep for at least a year in a cool, dark cupboard.
*If you don’t have cherry juice, you could substitute 2 c. mashed fresh cherries. Alternately, replace it with an equal amount of water/other fresh fruit juice or with an extra 2 c. raspberries or blackberries.