Well, now I’ve married into the country lifestyle, and I adore the idea of canning. But it scares me.
I’ve canned a few things and then I rarely end up using it because I’m always nervous about random bacteria. That, and I live on a well and the water leaves this nasty white residue on the outside of the jars. I know, I know, its just minerals and it wipes right off, but still. It freaks me out.
But I WANT to be a canner. I really do.
So when I was out browsing for a jam recipe, I ran across Steph Chows blog and learned that there is such a thing as a “Jam Exchange”. That’s right, a bunch of people all over the country make jam and then send it to each other. I am sooooo signing up for THAT!
As you may have heard if you follow me on Twitter, I’ve recently been endowed with large quantities of fresh blackberries, courtesy of the hubs’ buddy, MG. More than twenty quarts. So, I did a lot of freezing, but I still had several quarts in the fridge I needed to do something with, and that means jam.
I had seen recipes for blackberry with port, or strawberries with port, but since port never last long at my house, I didn’t have any on hand and I didn’t want to wait until I could get to a decent liquor store to pick up a bottle.
But you know what else goes really well with berries? Red wine. So, in place of the port, I poured some red wine into a saucepan and reduced it down to the ¼ cup the original recipe called for. I worried about the amount of sugar it called for, but I didn’t want to chance changing the recipe too much so I left it. The jam did end up awfully sweet, but still quite tasty.
Well, I signed up for the jam exchange this morning, and this will be one of the jars I send out! Unless, of course, one of the dozen or so other jam recipes I have filed away turns out better....
Coming up next – Blueberry and Lavender Jam! Stay tuned!
Simmer about ¾ cup of red wine in a small saucepan until reduced to about ¼ cup.
Add the crushed berries and the sugar to a large, deep pot. Heat on low, stirring often, until the sugar is dissolved.Add the lemon juice and bring the heat up to Med/High, stirring to blend.
Cook until the berry mixture reaches 220F. Carefully add the wine reduction, stir and reheat to 222F. (Note: I could not get my jam to break 220 degrees, so I quit mine a bit early, but it turned out fine. Remove from the heat and let rest for 3-5 minutes so the berries can mix with the syrup. If any obvious hard blackberry cores rise to the top, remove them for a smoother jam.
Note: at this point, I actually put my jam through a food mill to remove all the seeds and hulls. My jam also did not seem to be gelling very well, so after straining off the seeds, I put the mixture back in the pan, brought it up to a boil and added some liquid pectin.Pour hot jam into sterilized jars, seal properly and finish with a hot water bath for 10 minutes. OR, just pour into freezer containers and freeze.