Day 195–Slightly Badass Blackberry Jelly

It is somewhat misleading to call this recipe “jelly”. Jellies are lovely, crystal clear productions that have no pulp or fruit particles visibly present. So this recipe I am presenting to you is not like that. This recipe is a fun, full of itself cousin to true jelly. Think of it as that rogue cousin who shows up at a family funeral with a six pack of beer instead of a pound cake. You know exactly who I’m talking about, don’t you?

While this jelly won’t earn any ribbons for beauty at the State Fair, it is delicious, full of flavor and would be good on a biscuit or on a pork tenderloin. The reason it isn’t crystal clear and sparkling, is because I use a food mill instead of cheesecloth to extract the seeds. This leaves in some of the fruit pulp that makes the jelly opaque instead of clear. I don’t care. When I have blackberries, I’m using every little bit of them I can!

Slightly Badass Blackberry Jelly

8 cups of fresh blackberries
3 tsp. calcium water (this comes with the Pomona Pectin)
3 cups pure cane sugar
3 tsp. Pomona’s Pectin
1/4 cup water

Rinse the berries and put in a nonreactive stock pot. Add the water. Mash the berries with a potato masher and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Let cool about 5 minutes.

Put a food mill with a fine blade over a large bowl. Fill the food mill half way with the cooled blackberry mixture. Process until there are just seeds remaining and dump the seeds into a container for composting. Continue until you have processed all the berries.

Pour 3 cups of the processed blackberries into the pot and bring to a boil (NOTE: if you have more than 3 cups of processed blackberries, adjust the amounts of the remaining ingredients accordingly).

Add the calcium water and bring to a boil again. Mix the pectin and sugar in a bowl. Add to the boiling blackberries and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes. Scrape off any foam.

Either refrigerate the jelly or ladle into clean, hot half-pint jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow jars to rest in the hot water for 5 minutes. Remove from the canner and set aside. Check seals after 24 hours and if seals are good, store for up to 1 year.

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Day 194–Win/Win at the Farmer’s Market

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Those of you who know me are aware that I have very little “gambler’s luck”. I am lucky in many things–lucky in love, lucky to live in a wonderful town, lucky to have a solid home and a great job. But take me to Vegas, baby, and it’s all over. I’m not sure why I don’t have that kind of random luck that results in people winning bingo, slots, the lottery or the free week of groceries from Trader Joes. My mom has it…my brother has it…but me? Not so much.

Still, every once and a while, Lady Luck smiles on me. Today, she smiled at the Western Wake Farmer’s Market. I was hoping to buy some blackberries because the blackberry jam I made earlier this summer is about out and we really do need more. Really. Blackberries here are about $4 a pint at the farmer’s markets. I figured I had enough to buy 4 pints and make one batch of jam (about 3 or 4 half pints). Not too bad, but kinda pricey. Still, I love blackberries, so it’s worth it.

Enter Lady Luck. While I was talking to the very nice (and VERY funny) guys at the Godwin Farm stand, Mr. Godwin (I’m guessing) pointed to the bed of his truck and said “See that bag of blackberries? We picked them for today and then someone dropped the bag, mushing some of the berries.” They had been carefully going through the large plastic grocery bag, trying to pick out the prettiest berries to package and sell. Hmmmmm… “How much for the whole bag?” I asked. “I’m making jam–I don’t care how pretty they are. They’re just going in a pot anyway.” I didn’t think I could afford the bag, but it never hurts to ask, right?

“How about $8?” Mr. Godwin said. He looked genuinely happy not to pick through any more berries (and I’m sure happy not to take home spoiled berries in berry juice). SOLD! Before he handed over the now triple bagged berries, he said, “Let’s just weigh them for fun!” Nine pounds of blackberries. HOLY MOLY. That is a king’s ransom in blackberries. His grandson looked less amused with the transaction, but I promised to be back next week for the wonderful figs they will have.

So here we have a win/win–the farmer gets rid of blackberries that wouldn’t last the day, I get to make a TON of blackberry jelly and some very lucky people will get blackberry jelly for Christmas! Mr. Godwin will get some jelly next Saturday 🙂

So what does 9 lbs. of blackberries look like? Well, it’s 23 cups of blackberries, which made 12 half pints of jelly and an additional 10 4 oz. gift jars. That is a LOT of jelly!

The jelly I made is really kind of a cruder cousin of the lovely, clear, sparkling jellies out there. I don’t use cheesecloth, I used my food mill to extract the juice and the seeds, so it’s cloudier than store bought jelly, but man is it good!!

Here’s hoping Lady Luck will smile on you and your local farmers this week!

Day 160–Berry Crisp

Several types of common "berries" ar...

Inspired by a recent post by Real Local Cooking, I decided to use my stash of blackberries and strawberries to make a fruit crisp. I had a good amount of strawberries that needed to be eaten immediately or composted. We love cobblers, but I like the idea of having oatmeal with my fruit–specially crispy oats. I found a recipe that called for way too much sugar and adapted it a bit. We had it for dessert last night and it was wonderful! The topping was very crispy and almost like granola. I used 6 cups of fruit–you can use any variety you want, I think, and adapt it based on what you have that is fresh and handy. The original recipe is Triple Berry Crisp from Allrecipes.com, but here is my adapted version:

Berry Crisp

  • 1 quart ripe strawberries (about 4 c.)
  • 1 full pint of blackberries (about 2 c.)
  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2 c. rolled oats
  • 1 1/4 c. organic, dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 c. organic butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash fruit, drain and cut large fruit (strawberries) in half. Set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, combine wheat flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  4. Put butter in a bowl and microwave to melt.
  5. Pour butter over flour mixture and combine until crumbly. Press half of crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13″ pan (I actually used a ceramic, deep dish pie pan).
  6. Cover with berries.
  7. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over the berries.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until fruit is bubbly and top is golden brown and crispy.

Enjoy those summer berries!