People in the Pacific Northwest take wild blackberries for granted. In fact, they’re something of a nuisance, lining highways and filling empty lots (my dad once had to rent a backhoe in order to clear the brambles from a section of our horse pasture after he got sick and tired of trying to use Roundup to no avail.) In August, it’s easy to freely pick gallons of blackberries (you may sacrifice a bit of skin in the process – wild blackberries have very sharp thorns) at local parks, nature reserves and backyards. Just make sure to watch where you’re picking, last summer my parents got scolded after accidentally wandering onto someone’s property while picking berries at the very furthest most point of a dead end road.
Blackberry jam was one of my grandma’s specialties, so this recipe was hers before it was mine. She’s the one who taught me to mash the berries through a strainer to remove the seeds before turning them into jam (it’s a necessity with wild berries, as they tend to be seedier than cultivated berries. If you have more civilized berries, the deseeding process is optional). She’s also the one who showed me how wonderful a smear of blackberry jam can be on a slice of peanut butter toast mid-February. It’s a deep, deep purple color, and if you take the time to strain it, is almost entirely seedless and is particularly amazing on pancakes. 🙂
Seedless Blackberry Jam (makes approximate 3 pints)
6 cups blackberry pulp (8-9 cups of berries, mashed through a strainer with the back of a wooden spoon)
4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 packet liquid pectin (half the box)
Prepare your jars, start your lids to simmering and bring your canning pot to a boil.
In a large, non-reactive pot (stainless steel or enameled cast iron), combine the sugar and fruit pulp and bring to a simmer. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon zest/juice and stir to combine. Let the mixture reach a boil, stirring frequently to prevent it from boiling over. When the mixture appears to be thickening a bit, bring it back to a roiling boil and add the pectin. Let it boil vigorously for at least five minutes to activate the pectin.
Fill your jars with the hot jam, wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water canner for ten minutes.
Remove from canner and allow the jars to completely cool on a dishtowel-lined counter top.
Once the jars are cool, check the seals, label them and eat jam on toast in January.