Yesterday I shared about picking dewberries (blackberries) and all of the fun that goes along with it. Picking berries and eating fresh berries is wonderful, but after you pick all of those luscious berries, what do you do with them?
I came home late Friday evening and put my berries in the fridge with full intentions of juicing them the next day. We were gone all day Saturday and I wasn’t able to tend to the berries. Sunday afternoon I finally had a minute and was able to juice them. I was so worried that they had spoiled—some of the berries were very ripe—but thankfully they were just fine.
I have always loved canning and making jelly. There is such a sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with seeing all of your labor lined up in jars on shelves. I love listening to the happy popping sound of the jars sealing. While I was making the jelly yesterday I told Jacob that I really felt like a grown-up married lady now—making jelly in my own kitchen. ;) Even though we have been married for over a year, I sometimes still stop in amazement that I’m really married now. I thought I would share my jelly making adventure with you today.
The first step is to wash the berries thoroughly and remove any leaves, stems, or any other foreign matter that does not need to be in your jelly. When picking berries with children, there will invariably be foreign matter in your berry basket.
Next you need to cook the juice out of the berries. After you have washed them, place the berries in a large pot and almost cover them with water. You don’t want too much water or your juice will be diluted and weak and your jelly won’t have a very strong taste. It will just be a lot of sweet with a little flavor.
Cook the berries on high, crushing them with a potato masher or a wooden spoon. You’ll know when they are done because the berries will turn red and the juice will be close to boiling. It’s fine if it boils, but not for too long.
There are two ways to do the next step. You can mush the berries through a very fine strainer or sieve, or you can strain them through cheesecloth or an old t-shirt. Either way is fine and works great, just make sure not to get any of the crushed berries and seeds in your juice. You want just juice. I used an old t-shirt this time as I didn’t have a strainer. You can get more juice when you use a strainer. If you use cheesecloth or an old t-shirt twist it very tightly and use a wooden spoon to help get the most juice out that you can. This will take a little while. The berries and juice will be hot, so be careful.
You can use the juice immediately, or refrigerate it for a few days, or freeze it for later use. This juice is ready for jelly or for cobblers or anything that you need blackberry juice for. It will make your kitchen smell wonderful.
From a gallon size ziploc bag full of berries I got almost a gallon of juice.
Now comes the fun part! Here’s what you’ll need: jars, rings and lids, a jar filler, a large pot, pectin and the recipe below.
Prepare your jars and lids by checking the rims of the jars for nicks or bumps or anything that would prevent the jars from sealing. The rims need to be smooth. You can check the rims by wetting your finger and feeling around the tops of the jars. Heat your rings and lids in a small pot of hot water. Fill the jars completely full of hot water and set aside. This ensures that they do not crack and burst when the hot jelly is poured into them.
There are 2 different types of pectin out there—liquid and dry. We have used both and my mom and I prefer to use the pouches of liquid pectin. Certo is great and Ball also makes liquid pectin in pouches. They are both wonderful and work the same. The methods for liquid and dry pectin are different. I’ll be demonstrating the liquid pectin method.
Here is the recipe:
3 3/4 – 4 cups prepared juice
7 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 pouches liquid pectin
Combine the juice and sugar in a 6-8 quart pot and cook on high, stirring frequently, until it reaches a full, rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.
Add the liquid pectin, being sure to get all of the pectin out of both pouches. Stirring constantly, return to a rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute ( set a timer so you can be sure of the time). Remove from heat. Skim foam from top. (The foam is a great sneak peek and sample of what your jelly will taste like. We often throw a pan of biscuits in the oven while we are making jelly so we can sample the jelly by the foam.)
Empty the water from the jars and pour the jelly into them. A jar filler is the best thing to use, but if you don’t have one, just pour slowly. Fill the jars, leaving about a 1/2 inch headspace from the top.
Oh, look, the hubby snapped a picture of me ;) Now you can see how messy my kitchen gets when I can ;)
Next, place the rings and lids on the jars and screw them a little past. finger tight (as tight as you can get them with your hands). Turn them upside down and leave them for 5-10 minutes. This heats everything up and helps the jars seal better.
Next, turn them over and listen for them to seal. The popping sound of jars sealing is one of my favorite sounds. Let them set overnight before moving them.
Hurray! The finished product! From my juice (almost a gallon) I was able to make 8 pints and 2 half pints of jelly.