I’m going to start this post by showing you two pictures related to my jam extravaganza. The first picture is of pre-jam production:
And here is the second picture, taken once I had finished:
Before we talk about what happened, let me start at the beginning. Last summer I spent a full morning handpicking organic strawberries from a U-pick farm on Sauvie Island, just outside of Portland. I brought the berries home and made fresh strawberry jam. It honestly tasted like bottled summer.
I’d like to think I’m the next Martha Stewart, but it’s pretty standard in Portland to make homemade jam during berry season. Despite it being the norm, it’s still new and exciting for me; I grew up on Costco-sized jars of Smucker’s. But after last year’s scrumptious batch, I knew I’d never go back – PB&Js have never been so tasty (especially if you’re using Dave’s Killer Bread – OMG I’m such an addict!). But as amazing as last year’s strawberry jam was, Sam and I were both ready to spice up our lunchtime regime after eating it for a full year.
This summer, I decided to tackle blackberries. The decision was based in large part because Oregon’s incredibly rainy June wiped out almost all other berry crops. I figured if the blackberries could survive El Nino, they could certainly survive being butchered in my kitchen.
Anyway, Sam was at work when I decided to jump into it. I proudly took over the whole kitchen counter in preparation. I gathered my cooking gadgets, premeasured ingredients, sanitized the canning jars and washed the berries.
Now let’s take a step back. Remember back in elementary school, when your teachers reiterate how important it is to read directions?
Fast-forward to Sunday night. I didn’t read the directions on the pectin (canning preservative) label; a sign that I should continue focusing my blog on eating out rather than staying in.
Without thinking much about it, I opened the box of 100% all natural pectin and began the recipe included in the box. I mushed the berries and strained the blackberry seeds. I added the pectin, sugar and corn syrup. I stirred. I splashed blackberry juice everywhere. I waited. I stirred again. And then about 45 minutes into the process, I realized that I was reading the wrong recipe; I meant to make the “real stuff” as I had done in the past. Instead, was following the directions for “Easy Freezer Jam.” It was all making sense (I was wondering why I hadn’t turned on the stove yet) although definitely too late to change. So, I went with it, slightly flustered at this point, and finished the recipe. I managed to get the mixture into my adorable Kerr jars – although it got all over the counter and floors, too.
The jam making process is slightly suspenseful because you can’t taste the finished product right away. You have to wait 24 long hours for the jam to settle and form before you dig in and make sure it tastes, well, like jam. Which is perfect, because that’s how long it will take you to clean the purple die out of your kitchen tiles and grout. But let me tell you something: homemade jam (even Easy Freezer Jam) is really good. And besides enjoying it yourselves, the little jars make great gifts if you need a quick hostess gift or thank you present.
|Waiting 24 hours for my mixture to magically become real jam!
I should add that I ended up with four cups of blackberries left over after the jam process. Most fruit pies require four cups of fruit, which I thought was definitely a sign. Although I’d never made a blackberry pie before, I had a Pillsbury roll out pie crust in my freezer (I always have one handy. Who actually makes pie crusts?) that I defrosted while I searched for a recipe online. I finally found this recipe for Blackberry Pie and whipped it together in no time!
This was another long night for Sam at work, and he came home long after I went to bed. As usual, I woke up first the next morning – and couldn’t help but notice an extra piece of the pie was missing. Nothing better than a homemade midnight snack…