Homemade Wild Blackberry Jam

September 5th, 2010  |  Published in All, Fantastic Fruits, Preserves and Pickles  |  11 Comments

Homemade Blackberry Jam

Picking wild blackberries is something I truly miss about living in the Pacific Northwest. Blackberry bushes hang heavy with ripe fruit in late August and early September all over the state of Washington. After I finished my year of traveling and before I left for California, I spent an August and a September living in rural Pierce county (which is even more rife with blackberry bushes than the average Washington county) and I took every opportunity possible to go outside and pick them. Blackberry cobbler, blackberry jam, blackberry puree, blackberry pancakes — if I could add blackberries, you name it, I made it.

My most frequent foraging ground was (conveniently) my dad’s backyard. Blackberry bushes wildly spill over his back fence, offering gallons of berries for the picking. And when I’d picked every ripe berry offered there I only had to travel a few hundred feet down the road to another fruitful thicket. Ah, Edgewood.

Anyhow, a couple of weeks ago I went up to Washington for a visit with my family (and the IFBC). I arrived early in the afternoon on a Saturday, and Dad and I spent most of the afternoon sitting on his deck sipping local micro brew and catching up with each others’ lives. From the deck you can spy the myriad blackberry bushes that spill over the fence that marks his property boundary. Perhaps having these heavy, ripe, prickly blackberry bushes in my visual periphery all afternoon reminded me of simpler times past (before I went to grad school and started my ‘adult life’), and inspired me to make jam. I mean, what else does one do on vacation than make jam?

Making jam is a labor of love. No bones about it. For most people, there’s absolutely no way that making your own jam is more cost-effective or time-efficient than buying even the fanciest jam available at Whole Foods or the like. It usually costs more to make your own, and certainly takes more time, but still, there is something just lovely about the exercise. It’s a quiet, thoughtful activity, good for the soul I’d say. And I swear it tastes better! :)

Anyhow, next time you find yourself with access to wild blackberries, consider taking a few hours out of your life to make this delicious and simple blackberry jam. Your quiet side will thank you for taking the time.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Wild Blackberry Jam
from Christine Ferber’s Mes Confitures
Makes 6 – 7 half pints

1 kg wild blackberries (2.2 lbs), picked over and well rinsed
800 g sugar
juice of 1 medium lemon
1/2 t vanilla extract (optional)

Combine berries, sugar, and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, pour mixture into a ceramic or glass bowl, cover with parchment, refrigerate and let stand overnight.

The next day, pour the berry mixture into a preserving pan. Add vanilla if using. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes until the jam is set (I use the wrinkle test*). Pour into sterilized jars** and seal***.

Let the jam cool. It is ready to use immediately. Enjoy!

* The Wrinkle Test = put a small plate in the freezer to chill for at least 10 minutes. When you think the jam is done, pour about 1/2 t. of the jam onto the chilled plate, then replace in the freezer for 90 seconds. Remove the plate and push the jam with your finger; if it wrinkles, the jam is done; if the jam doesn’t wrinkle (imagine pushing your finger through honey), continue cooking the jam and re-test in 4-5 minutes.

**The easiest way to sterilize jars is to place them (without rings or lids) into a 250 degree oven for 10 minutes. Sterilize rings and lids by boiling for 5 minutes. Leave rings and lids in hot water until ready to use.

*** To properly seal canned jam, boil jars in a large pot of water for 7-10 minutes. The water should cover the jars by at least 2 inches.

Blackberry bush

Blackberries hanging over dad's fence

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  1. Chandelle says:

    September 6th, 2010at 5:26 am(#)

    Beautiful! I moved to Northern California last year and I can’t get over the wild blackberries. At first it was such a novelty – now they’re a bit of a pain! Any unattended land will be overrun in no time. I have to hack them out of my garden every few weeks. But I still go berrying almost every day in the autumn. I usually just freeze the berries and use them in smoothies, but this year I plan to try freezer jam. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Adrienne says:

    September 6th, 2010at 10:01 am(#)

    I’ll take this as a sign. My fiance was just telling me we need to go pick the blackberries at his grandparent’s. I’d say it’s time to make some jam! Thanks :)

  3. Kelly says:

    September 7th, 2010at 7:36 am(#)

    Gorgeous jamming post. I always love watching all the preserving you. And I’m glad you’re back. I kept scanning my blog reader hoping there was something wrong with it and that you were actually still posting because I miss them.

    Also, it’s been awhile so I cannot remember if I told you this, but I recently updated my blog reader, so anyone who was an old subscriber sadly isn’t getting the feed anymore. That said, it’s easy to resubscribe on the top of my blog.

  4. Jen says:

    September 7th, 2010at 9:20 am(#)

    Chandelle – Where in northern CA are you? are there elderberry trees in your area? that’s another fun thing to forage! both the blossoms in the spring and the berries in the summer/early fall

    Adrienne – definitely! Lucky you to have a relative with lots of wild berries. I wish I didn’t have to go all the way to washington for my source :)

    Kelly – aha! that’s why I hadn’t been seeing any new posts from you! I’m all updated now :)

  5. Amanda at Enchanted Fig says:

    September 8th, 2010at 4:54 am(#)

    Oh! I know what you mean about the berries! I found a bush in the Central Valley here, and it had two edible berries, the rest were crisp-fried. I miss the abundance of Vancouver, BC. Thanks for the corporate longing. Maybe its time for me to head to the hills (where wild blackberries are actually are quite good!).

  6. Kasey says:

    September 8th, 2010at 8:57 am(#)

    Mmm, blackberries are one of my favorite berries–when they are plump and juicy and sweet, all I think about is summertime. I haven’t tried my hand at canning yet, but it sounds pretty easy to me! Can you make this without a preserving pan? Hope you had a great time at IFBC–I’m sad I missed it.

  7. Jen says:

    September 9th, 2010at 8:39 am(#)

    Amanda – what a disappointment! two berries! :( At least we’ve got elderberry trees all over northern CA

    Kasey – I guess I should watch my wording! I don’t know if there is one such thing as a ‘preserving pan’… what I mean by it is something that is large and fairly wide. I typically use my 5 qt dutch oven and it works great. One thing to note is that jam bubbles up a lot, so you want to make sure the pan is no more than about 1/3 full

  8. ian says:

    September 28th, 2010at 12:39 am(#)

    its so very nice…
    Im hungry now…

  9. Danielle says:

    October 12th, 2010at 3:48 am(#)

    I have an award to share with you! Please stop by my blog when you’re able =)

    This Jam looks amazing!

  10. eamonn says:

    August 13th, 2011at 2:43 pm(#)

    Hi guys i have just discovered jam making, i grow a lot of my own fruit and veg i live in belfast (ireland)and live in an area rich in wild blackberry and cant wait too get picking tho has anyone any views on maggots :-).

  11. Kimann says:

    August 24th, 2011at 6:21 am(#)

    We have beautiful blackberries in season here and now – August. I have over a gallon, and will preserve. One neat way to have a variety of seeded and “seedless” is to run the berries through a foodmill to eliminate seeds. My 14 yr. is still a “seedless” kinda guy. Love the adding of lemons and vanilla extract – we use Frontier Organic. Thanks much for making a labor of love – easier with explicit instructions. Peace. K

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