Sunday, September 8, 2013

Wild Mountain Blackberry Jelly

The wild blackberries clinging to the vines in the Time Zone and at the Latitude Where I Live have already been decimated by bears. How do I know? The bears calling cards are loaded with blackberry seeds. 
Wild Mountain Blackberry Jelly

With the onset of cooler days, it’s getting late in the season to find the massive berry bounty available only two weeks ago, so I hope you can count yourself among those clever people who picked and packed blackberries for the freezer. If not, you’ll still find fresh blackberries in the supermarket, minus the memory of ripped skin and clothing from the thorns, and from staring down the occasional cougar. 

I did, indeed, meet a cougar - a “puma” or “mountain lion” in other parts of the world - as I picked blackberries a couple of years ago! With every jar of blackberry jelly I open, I think of that big cat, his tail swishing back and forth, most certainly aware of me long before I was aware of him. Would I dare pick blackberries again? You betcha!

Hands up, those of you who’ve seen bottles and packets of pectin in the home-canning section of the supermarket. Good! Now hands up, those of you who’ve wondered what to do with it, let alone why anyone would buy it. Oh-oh! That’s a lot of hands! 

I’m writing this late Saturday night, as Ron watches a boffo movie starring Russell Crowe (one of my favorite actors). I was going to write out the instructions for making Wild Mountain Blackberry Jelly (one of my favorite recipes), but merely following the directions on the pectin packet should nicely do the trick. 

Bon courage, Dollinks! Follow those foolproof instructions and you will not go wrong! You’ll have beautiful jelly to show for it, and you’ll be proud of yourself. I like using Certo-brand liquid pectin, but buy whatever you fancy. Pectin recipes are not interchangeable, so do precisely as the package instructions direct.

And now I’m going to settle in to watch that movie. To paraphrase Marie Antoinette: “Let ‘em eat Crowe!” 

Wash and sort fresh blackberries

Add to blender goblet

Liquefy to produce the amount needed

Pour into sieve. Press with back of spoon to remove seeds

Discard seeds trapped by sieve

Stir berry liquid into granulated sugar

Bring to boil in heavy pot as pectin instructions direct

Allow to cool slightly
 Skim off foam with metal spoon

Berry liquid is now clear and ready to "jell"

Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal with paraffin wax

Recycle leftover wax; I store mine in a jar.

Important Note: The directions for sealing jams and jellies recently changed. The last two photos above and the directions for using paraffin in this note represent an older school of thought. For the updated instructions (which Ill use in future), see

Heres what I wrote before I knew the years-old method had changed: Paraffin is highly flammable. Melt it over simmering water - never over direct heat. Seal hot jelly in hot jars with a thin layer of melted paraffin. When wax has set, reseal with second layer of wax to ensure no jelly leaks over the final wax seal. I’m thrifty. Whenever I open a fresh jar of jelly, I give the wax seal a fast hot-water rinse, removing every speck of jelly for later remelting and reuse.

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