After all of my blackberry picking and baking, it was time to jam before those suckers went bad. It was now or never and I knew I had no choice but to preserve them. Mainly because my stomach was so tired of eating them for snacks.

I had carefully researched the canning process and chosen a recipe from Food In Jars, my favorite canning blog. I had made all of the necessary purchases of canning equipment. I had seven pounds of blackberries to turn into preserves. I was so ready… At least I thought.

When it was finally time to can, I realized I was in a a bit of a situation. I have a great big pot that I thought would be perfect for canning, and it was, almost. But I only have one great big pot, not two. And for jamming and canning, you need two great big pots: one great big pot to make the jam, and an even greater bigger pot to process the jam in jars. Oops.

So, I used the big pot for the processing part. Only it was only the slightest bit wider, as opposed to taller, so it left me in another situation, which you will read more about in a bit. I used a large saucepan (though not large enough,) to make the jam in. It worked, it really did, but it could have gone a lot smoother.

Blackberry Jam
from Food In Jars

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.

I should have taken a lot more pictures, but it was a really involved process and my hands were much too busy. Pictured above you will see my not tall enough canning pot, my small pot to sterilize the lids, and my not quite big enough saucepan to make the jam, with the jam inside of it.

Believe it or not, the most involved part of the whole process, with this particular recipe, is mashing the blackberries through a sieve to get rid of the seeds. It took about an hour and I got tired after a while and just scooped a few cups full of the mashed berries and seeds right into the mixture. There is nothing wrong with a few seeds in your jam, it’s more authentic.

The next most difficult part was the jam. This is because my pan was not big enough and you had to watch very closely to make sure that it did not bubble over. This was especially tricky when the pectin became involved, because you are supposed to let the jam mixture come to a hard boil for 5 minutes in order to activate the pectin. But when your saucepan is too small and you risk having your jam bubble over, it’s impossible to have a hard boil for 5 minutes. So, pectin may not have even been activated, who knows?

Lastly, the processing part. In theory this is probably the easiest, though it helps to have an extra pair of hands around, and thank goodness I did. The tricky part for me was that the water didn’t cover the tops of the jars, and it needed to in order for the lids to seal. So I had to put the jars in, let them boil, and then add a few cups of water until the water was literally at the very top of the pot. See:

This was very risky business but guess what- it worked! All of the lids sealed. I was able to make five 8-oz. jars of jam and then had a half of a jar leftover that we’ll just keep in the fridge and put on things like bread, apple donuts, waffles, and ice cream.

The consistency of the jam was not as jam-like as I would have liked. I think this mostly has to do with the lack of pectin-activation. The flavor, however, is perfect. This is great in the summer and will be even greater in the Winter, thanks to the addition of the cinnamon and nutmeg. Can’t wait to have this on a chilly Winter day on some toast or pancakes.

Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of the finished project. But no worries, this will not be the last of my canning attempts. I plan on buying a very large canning pot. When Fall comes around and there are apples abound, I will be making some apple cinnamon jam and trying my hand at apple butter as well. Can’t wait!