I made 213 small jars of blackberry jam this weekend.
That's 53 pounds of jam. Over 26 pounds of blackberries and sugar each. I'm guessing somewhere between 6-8,000 blackberries. Basically, a lot of jam.
My fiance and I made this ridiculous amount of jam for our wedding as favors to give to all guests. The great thing about it all is that the blackberries were free! A couple of years ago we took a walk near my fiance's house and found a big field with a public footpath alongside, which was covered with blackberry bushes. After making jam last year successfully we decided that it would be a great idea for the wedding and could tie in with our colours among other things. Plus, this way I actually get to make something for the guests and give them something that they might use and enjoy.
This weekend was a lot of hard work, almost an assembly line in the kitchen, but well worth it. And it might sound silly, but whenever I make a gift for someone, I think about them and the event and try to put my good thoughts into it. So I was filled with thoughts of the wedding and my friends and family and generally love. Oh, and after picking blackberries for over four hours I couldn't shut my eyes without seeing blackberries.
Different blackberries each time.
Making jam has been something my family has always done, though I hear it is making a comeback in the States due to financial difficulties. Really, there's no great secret, it's just about putting in the time and effort now to have beautiful jam all year round. (I still have some from last year.) I was used to different jars and having the sugar and pectin sold separately to make jam, but in the UK you can get jam sugar, which is already pre-mixed. Amazing!
The recipe I used for this blackberry jam is 3 pounds blackberries, 3 pounds jam sugar and a knob of butter.
Crush the blackberries well and maybe cook for a bit until broken down. I don't like lumpy jam, but if you do, then leave the berries mostly intact.
Add the jam sugar or sugar and pectin and knob of butter. Stir well.
Heat it all until just boiling and usually frothing and keep this going for 3 or so minutes. It should be ready to set now, but if you are unsure you can stick a spoon in and see if the jam sets into a jam-like consistency after it cools.
Scoop the jam into clean, sterilised jars (you can put them in the oven on a low heat for about 10-15 minutes to do this) of a size of your choice. I don't really recommend 200 tiny little jars, but they do look nice.
Carefully wipe the lids of any residual jam and close them tightly. As the jars cool, it should suck the air in and keep the jam for a long time.
Blackberry jam makes some of the prettiest jam out there. The colour is like a mahogany wine and in the right light it can take on a bright fuschia or a deep, velvety maroon.
So in seven months, hopefully everyone will like it!
PS- I still have 27 jars to go. Guess what I'm doing on Saturday?