Perfect. Easy. Blackberry jelly.
The blackberries are “ON.” If you have any canes around your homestead, and you live near me, you probably could eat blackberry flavored foods for the next month and still not run out of berries. The woodline is dripping with them.
I have spent years trying to figure out the jelly mystery. Eureka, Friends! I have found it. Look no further if you want to make your own blackberry jelly and you don’t want it to end in disaster. This is a sure thing. It’s also delicious and all natural. Jelly-Trifecta!
There are only 5 Ingredients: Berries, Cane Sugar, juice from 1 Lemon & 1 Lime, & Liquid Pectin.
I don’t like blackberry jam.
If you are thinking potatoes/ patatoes…….. here’s a quick jelly v/s jam lesson:
- Jelly: Clear and sparkling fruit spread consisting of firmed fruit (or vegetable) juice. Holds itself in place. Made from fruit juice. Usually does not contain pieces of fruit.
- Jam: Made with whole (mashed) fruit. Fruit spread will contain crushed, diced, or grated pieces of fruit and/or rinds.
I don’t like blackberry seeds on my biscuits. I know many people don’t mind the seeds. Some folks grind up the stems and throw them in there too.
I want my blackberry jelly to be crystal clear, sweet, slightly tart and seed-free.
There are 3 Stages to making perfect Jelly.
- Get some Blackberries. Yea! Picking!
- Make Juice
- Make Jelly
STEP 1: Blackberries
Before we can make perfect jelly, we must get some blackberries! You can buy them. You can put in blackberry “canes” or bushes and raise your own. Or, you can do what we do:
The chickens aren’t the only ones scratching around this place looking for tasty bites.
Around here, the birds plant the blackberry canes. I’ll explain.
Birds love blackberries. They eat the berries from surrounding farms. Then they come sit in trees at our place. I don’t know if the birds prefer the trees along the woodline, or if the woodline is the only place that provides enough sun for the berries to thrive, or both……. but all our berries grow along the woods.
We walk the woodline around our home and fields picking berries on the way.
When the blackberries are “on” you can pick enough berries for a batch of jelly in one day. If you don’t get enough in 1 day, stick them in the fridge & continue picking, adding to the collection each day until you have enough berries.
STEP 2: Juice
Once you’ve collected enough berries (about 5-6 cups) it’s time to make juice. Don’t worry, you won’t need a juicer to make this juice.
If you want to make Jam – you can use the entire fruit. I don’t want seeds, I want crystal-clear, sparkling jelly; therefore, I am going to turn these berries into juice.
First wash them. Then transfer them into a sauce pan.
Add 1 Cup of filtered water (to learn why and how we filter our water go here).
Bring the mixture to a boil. In just a few minutes it will look like this. Keep mashing!
Now, to strain the juice from the berries. There are several great ways to do this. You can use cheese cloth. You can use a jelly bag. You can use a strainer. I use my milk strainer.
- Yes, You Need a Milk Strainer (even if you don’t have a cow) here
I set my strainer on the container that will catch the juice.
Pour the berry mixture into the strainer and let the juice drain into the container below.
To encourage your berries to release all the juice, you can use a spoon to apply pressure.
STEP 3: Jelly
Pour the juice into a sauce pan (I washed and reused the pan I used to make the juice).
At this point go ahead and cut open 2 packages of LIQUID fruit pectin. It must be Liquid pectin. Powdered pectin will not work. If you use powdered pectin you will end up with blackberry, sticky syrup instead of blackberry jelly. No Powder. Must use liquid pectin. If you don’t have any liquid pectin, but have 15 boxes of the powdered stuff – drop everything and go to the store. Powdered won’t work. Trust me on this one. Go get some liquid pectin.
Now that we are all clear on that, let’s get the liquid (not powdered) pectin ready to dump into the jelly.
Use scissors to cut open the (liquid) pectin packages and put them in jars to hold them upright. Set aside.
Pour the cane sugar into the sauce pan with the juice.
Bring to a full rolling boil (keep stirring). Boil 1 minute. Use a timer. Don’t over cook it. Remove from heat.
TROUBLESHOOTING: If you over cook the jelly it will be a sticky, gooey mess. It is important that you bring this to a full rolling boil for 1 minute and not longer. Overcooked jelly can taste scorched and is thick and sticky. There is not a good way to salvage overcooked jelly (that I know of). You can reheat it and thin it with some water to make a syrup (as long as it doesn’t taste scorched) – but it will never be jelly.
Skim off foam.
Ladle into sterilized, hot jars leaving 1/2 inch head-space. Sorry about my ugly, blue, plastic funnel. I am planning to get a nicer one. I haven’t yet, and this one does the job, so it’s what I’m using.
Process in boiling water-bath canner 10 minutes.
If you are new to this process here’s some tips:
- Be sure you are filling hot jars with hot jelly liquid. Filling cold jars with hot liquid can cause jars to spontaneously explode in your kitchen. I’ve done it. It’s startling, to say the least.
- When adjusting rings – you want them to be fingertip tight. Tight enough that water won’t get in, but not so tight that Hulk couldn’t open them.
- Use an elevated rack to hold jars. These are great and allow you to dunk all your jars into the bath at once (most canners come with a rack).
- Be sure your water is just beginning to simmer when you lower your jars in. If you put semi-warm jars into crazy-hot, boiling water this can also cause jars to spontaneously explode in your canner. I’ve also done this. It’s not as loud or shocking, but just as messy.
- Be sure the water level is 1-2 inches over the jars. Add additional boiling water if necessary.
- Bring back to boil – then start timer for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes remove jars and set to cool.
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