I learned a few things from my most recent day of jam making. First: I’m good for about one straight hour of pawing through prickly blackberry bushes. Second: waking up extra early to go berry picking before the shop opens is not the greatest idea when you’ll be up late baking, although we’ve abandoned the baking all night plan in favor of a “start earlier + end in time for a few hours’ sleep before sunrise” strategy.
I’m proud to report that wild blackberry jam is totally worth the effort and that the Blue Chair Jam Cookbook hasn’t led me astray yet. I used her wild blackberry recipe but took a suggestion from the non-wild version and steeped some lemon balm in it, since good buddy M. gave us a big ol’ jar last week after the strawberry jam party. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but having friends who garden is fantastic! So eager to share seeds, plants, produce, and knowledge.
Rachel Saunders’ usual m.o. for herbs in jam is to steep a few fresh sprigs at the end after it jells. Since my lemon balm is dried, I threw it in a tea ball and steeped it while the jam boiled, and it worked fine.
I ended up making two batches of jam that day, blackberry and red currant. (The gooseberries are frozen for now.) Red currants are so loaded with pectin it’s crazy. We have a few more berries on the bushes and I might save their juice to add to next year’s strawberry jam in case it decides to be tricky.
Also, this has nothing to do with jam BUT I’m just so excited: we’re harvesting our garlic on Thursday! K. pulled up one of the German White plants last night and I can’t even explain how much better it is than the stuff from the supermarket. Hopefully we have enough stashed away this winter to last all the way through next year’s harvest.
Anyway, I love everything about this blackberry jam. It has a deep gorgeous color, definitely deserving the classic comparison to a jewel’s tone. Its flavor is weirder and wilder than most jams, but just sweet enough and tinged with the littlest bit of lemon balm bite. (And the red currant jam is a keeper too: tart, bright in color and flavor, and super firm! I’m looking forward to glazing pork chops with it. The recipe I used is right over here on David Lebovitz’s blog, and both the blog and the recipe are fantastic.)