When we pick berries, Jerri freezes the ones we don’t use right away. Frozen berries don’t have the texture of fresh fruit, but they work fine for pies, cobblers, crisps and jellies. One big advantage of frozen berries is that they keep a long time. We just made two batches of Blackberry Jelly and two bottles of blackberry syrup with three bags of frozen berries we picked last summer and one from two years ago. Both the Jelly and syrup turned out great.
My mother made blackberry jam rather than jelly because she made plenty of jelly from pin cherries, plums, crabapples and chokecherries. We made Wild Blackberry Jam two years ago when there were lots of berries for the picking at the cabin. You’ll find our recipe for it here. Scheduling problems meant that we didn’t get many blackberries this year, though we did get enough for a delicious cobbler at the cabin crafted by Jerri and garnished with ice cream from the local market.
However, we felt that the berries in the freezer would be better used for jelly, so we boiled them with water, strained the juice and ended up with some delicious jelly and syrup. After making two batches of jelly, we had nearly two cups of juice that I turned into syrup. Very little goes to waste in the Rang household!
Here is how to make some delicious blackberry jelly.
Cloth to strain the berries
1 packet Sure-jell pectin
4 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. Butter
Paraffin or caps and rings to seal the jars
Wash and remove any stems or leaves from the berries. Put them into a six quart pan or Dutch oven. Mash them a bit and add the water to barely cover the berries. Set the pot over moderate heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about half an hour, stirring occasionally.
While the berries are simmering, measure four and one-half cups of sugar into a bowl and prepare the jars. Wash enough jars to hold seven cups of jelly and place them upside down in a baking pan over burners on the range. Add about an inch of water and bring the pan to a boil. After the pan has boiled for one or two minutes, turn off the heat and allow the jars to sit in the water for three or four minutes. Transfer them upside down on a rack and allow them to drain while you collect the juice.
Line a colander with three layers of damp cheesecloth or a towel and strain the juice from the berries. This can take a half hour or more. Do not squeeze the cloth if you want clear jelly.
Measure three and three-quarter cups of the juice into a six quart pan or Dutch oven and stir in the pectin. If you don’t have enough juice, you can add a little water. Add the butter to the juice while it is heating.
Melt the paraffin over low heat while the juice is coming to a boil.
When the juice reaches a rolling boil (one that you can not stir down), stir in the sugar and keep stirring until you have another rolling boil. If necessary, reduce the heat a little, but keep stirring the rolling boil for one minute. Remove the pan from the heat and skim any foam.
Turn the jars upright on wax paper. Use a funnel and ladle to fill the jars to within three-eighths of an inch from the top of each jar. If necessary, wipe the tops carefully and seal the jars with a thin coat of paraffin or lids and rings.
If you are using lids and rings, process the jars in a hot water canner for five minutes. If you choose to use paraffin, add a second thin layer of paraffin to the first after the jars are completely cool, and cover the jars with lids, plastic film or paper fastened to protect against dust.
If you have juice left over from making the jelly, you can easily turn it into syrup. Measure the amount of juice you have, stir in a little lemon juice and twice as much sugar plus a little more, and bring the mixture to a boil over moderate heat. Stirring constantly, boil for two or three minutes and pour the syrup into a bottle or jar.
NOTES: Here are the proportions I use to make syrup. For each cup of juice, add one teaspoon of lemon juice and two cups plus one tablespoon of sugar.