We have acres of wild blackberries - some of them are probably the wild brambles instead of actual blackberries. Some years they're small and bitter and sour. This year they're larger - even in the heat and drought. They're also sweeter. We wonder if it has something to do with the bees? Or maybe the mild winter? Or maybe the long easy spring? At any rate, they're delicious this year and it's a pleasure to make jelly with them.
I start out by picking as many berries as we can in a morning without expiring from the heat, humidity and ticks. We're pretty tired out when we get done. As soon as we recover, this is how it goes:
1. Wash the berries and pick out the grass seeds, leaves, stems, bugs, etc.
2. Put the berries in a big pot with a few cups of water and cook them until they're boiling a bit. They'll turn red.
3. Line a big colander or chinois with cheescloth. Set the colander/chinois over a big pot to catch the juice.
4. Ladle the berries into the cheesecloth.
5. Use a spoon to press the juice out of the mash or gather the corners of the cloth and roll them up to squeeze as much juice as you can out.
6. Discard the mash. Chickens love it.
7. Save the juice. You can can it as is to use later, or use it now to make syrup or jelly.
- Blackberry juice
- Sugar [1/2 as much sugar as blackberry juice]
- 4 cups blackberry juice
- 3 Tablespoons Dutch Jell All Natural Lite pectin
- 2 cups sugar
Note: I like jelly with a soft gel. I don't like to carve my jelly out of the jar. I like it to wiggle. Like jell-o. This Dutch Jell All Natural Lite pectin gives a great soft gel. Their recipe calls for a rounded 1/3 of a cup of the pectin, but so far I've found that 3 Tablespoons gives a great reliable gel with everything except strawberries, which needed the full rounded 1/3 cup and then gelled great.