Above: Blackberries from the backyard, August 2008.
This week's treat:
U-Pick Blackberries at La Finquita del Buho. Tons of blackberries and so easy to reach. Totally accessible. I only have a few scrapes and scratches, seriously. Michael and I spent about 1/2 hour picking blackberries and we easily walked home with 3-4 lbs. of berries. Picking blackberries is one of those quintessential summertime activities. I asked Michael if he used to pick blackberries when he was a kid and through his whining and moaning about the stickers and the bees, he said no. He had never seen a blackberry bush until he moved to Oregon and had no idea how they grew. Seriously? Wow. I guess that is what happens when you come from a place that is impeccably manicured. There are no brambling bushes at the end of the street (or in the backyard, as is the case with our house).
Truth be told, I am not a big fan of eating plain old blackberries. I mean they are okay, but certainly no strawberry or raspberry in my book. What I do love, however, is blackberry jam.
Blackberry Lemon Jam
3-4 lbs. blackberries, rinsed & picked through (or whatever amount you have, add or reduce sugar and lemon accordingly)
3 cups sugar
zest & juice of 2 large lemons
pectin (read package for appropriate amount for quantity of fruit and then add more, my blackberry jam is always too runny. I never add enough pectin)
Put berries into a very large pot. I do not bother trying to remove seeds, I am way too lazy. Add the pectin to the berries a little at a time, stirring constantly. Heat on high, continue stirring until mixture comes to a full boil. Add sugar, continue stirring. Bring mixture to a full hard boil (will probably take about 8-10 minutes), stirring constantly. Boil for 5 minutes.
Continue canning process by putting jam into sterilized jars of your choosing. Remember to use new lids for a good seal. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath (there should be at least 1 inch boiling water above jars). This amount of fruit made 10 half pints.
I absolutely love these flat half pint Ball jars.
Time to open a jar of this jam, spread a little mascarpone cheese on a slice of whole wheat toast and slather with homemade blackberry lemon jam.
I know, I cheated. This is actually a picture from last year's blackberry jam: