Perfect. Easy. Blackberry jelly.
The blackberries are “ON.” If you have any canes around your homestead, and you live near me, you probably could eat blackberry flavored foods for the next month and still not run out of berries. The woodline is dripping with them.
I have spent years trying to figure out the jelly mystery. Eureka, Friends! I have found it. Look no further if you want to make your own blackberry jelly and you don’t want it to end in disaster. This is a sure thing. It’s also delicious and all natural. Jelly-Trifecta!
There are only 5 Ingredients: Berries, Cane Sugar, juice from 1 Lemon & 1 Lime, & Liquid Pectin.
I don’t like blackberry jam.
If you are thinking potatoes/ patatoes…….. here’s a quick jelly v/s jam lesson:
- Jelly: Clear and sparkling fruit spread consisting of firmed fruit (or vegetable) juice. Holds itself in place. Made from fruit juice. Usually does not contain pieces of fruit.
- Jam: Made with whole (mashed) fruit. Fruit spread will contain crushed, diced, or grated pieces of fruit and/or rinds.
I don’t like blackberry seeds on my biscuits. I know many people don’t mind the seeds. Some folks grind up the stems and throw them in there too.
I want my blackberry jelly to be crystal clear, sweet, slightly tart and seed-free.
There are 3 Stages to making perfect Jelly.
- Get some Blackberries. Yea! Picking!
- Make Juice
- Make Jelly
STEP 1: Blackberries
Before we can make perfect jelly, we must get some blackberries! You can buy them. You can put in blackberry “canes” or bushes and raise your own. Or, you can do what we do:
The chickens aren’t the only ones scratching around this place looking for tasty bites.
Around here, the birds plant the blackberry canes. I’ll explain.
Birds love blackberries. They eat the berries from surrounding farms. Then they come sit in trees at our place. I don’t know if the birds prefer the trees along the woodline, or if the woodline is the only place that provides enough sun for the berries to thrive, or both……. but all our berries grow along the woods.
We walk the woodline around our home and fields picking berries on the way.
When the blackberries are “on” you can pick enough berries for a batch of jelly in one day. If you don’t get enough in 1 day, stick them in the fridge & continue picking, adding to the collection each day until you have enough berries.
Be sure to wear boots when berry picking. Birds aren’t the only ones who like to eat them. We find snakes in the berry bushes every year. Shudder.
STEP 2: Juice
Once you’ve collected enough berries (about 5-6 cups) it’s time to make juice. Don’t worry, you won’t need a juicer to make this juice.
If you want to make Jam – you can use the entire fruit. I don’t want seeds, I want crystal-clear, sparkling jelly; therefore, I am going to turn these berries into juice.
First wash them. Then transfer them into a sauce pan.
Add 1 Cup of filtered water (to learn why and how we filter our water go here).
Now squeeze the juice from one lime and one lemon into the saucepan with the berries and water. It’s ok if the pulp and seeds fall into the pan. We will be straining the juice in a few minutes.
Get the heat turned up to medium-high and start smashing the fruit.
Bring the mixture to a boil. In just a few minutes it will look like this. Keep mashing!
Now, to strain the juice from the berries. There are several great ways to do this. You can use cheese cloth. You can use a jelly bag. You can use a strainer. Or you can be like me. I use my milk strainer & a clean, lint-free towel.
- No, You Can’t Strain Milk with a Coffee Filter Here
- Yes, You Need a Milk Strainer (even if you don’t have a cow) here
I set my strainer on the container that will catch the juice.
Then I lined the strainer with the lint-free towel and pour in the berry mixture.
I let it strain through on its own a few minutes; then I grab the towel and give it a squeeze, massage, twist and another 14 squeezes to be sure I got every last drop of juice from those berries.
STEP 3: Jelly
Pour the juice into a sauce pan (I washed and reused the pan I used to make the juice).
At this point go ahead and cut open 2 packages of LIQUID fruit pectin. It must be Liquid pectin. Powdered pectin will not work. If you use powdered pectin you will end up with blackberry, sticky syrup instead of blackberry jelly. No Powder. Must use liquid pectin. If you don’t have any liquid pectin, but have 15 boxes of the powdered stuff – drop everything and go to the store. Powdered won’t work. Trust me on this one. Go get some liquid pectin.
Now that we are all clear on that, let’s get the liquid (not powdered) pectin ready to dump into the jelly.
Use scissors to cut open the (liquid) pectin packages and put them in jars to hold them upright. Set aside.
We’re going to need 7 1/2 Cups of sugar. I use organic, non-gmo pure cane sugar.
Pour the cane sugar into the sauce pan with the juice.
Stir, stir, stir (I use a whisk) and bring to a boil.
Once boiling stir in both packages of liquid pectin.
Bring to a full rolling boil (keep stirring). Boil 1 minute. Use a timer. Don’t over cook it. Remove from heat.
Skim off foam.
Ladle into sterilized, hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Sorry about my ugly, blue, plastic funnel. I am planning to get a nicer one. I haven’t yet, and this one does the job, so it’s what I’m using today.
Wipe rims with a clean, damp cloth. Top with sterilized lids and adjust rings.
Process in boiling water-bath canner 10 minutes.
If you are new to this process here’s some tips:
- Be sure you are filling hot jars with hot jelly liquid. Filling cold jars with hot liquid can cause jars to spontaneously explode in your kitchen. I’ve done it. It’s startling, to say the least.
- When adjusting rings – you want them to be fingertip tight. Tight enough that water won’t get in, but not so tight that Hulk couldn’t open them.
- Use an elevated rack to hold jars. These are great and allow you to dunk all your jars into the bath at once (most canners come with a rack).
- Be sure your water is just beginning to simmer when you lower your jars in. If you put semi-warm jars into crazy-hot, boiling water this can also cause jars to spontaneously explode in your canner. I’ve also done this. It’s not as loud or shocking, but just as messy.
- Be sure the water level is 1-2 inches over the jars. Add additional boiling water if necessary.
- Bring back to boil – then start timer for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes remove jars and set to cool.
Now you know how to have crystal-clear, sparkling jelly every time.
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Blackberry Jelly (to Can or Freeze)
This jelly is sweet, tart and crystal clear. It won't be runny, liquidy, sticky or turn into syrup. It's the best thing you've ever had on a biscuit! This recipe makes about 8 1/2 pint jars.
To make Juice:
Wash berries & put in sauce pan. Add water, lemon juice and lime juice. Do not worry about seeds or pulp, we will be straining the juice.
Bring to a boil & mash with a potato masher. Continue to simmer and smash until all the berries are destroyed.
Use cheese cloth or a milk strainer or a towel lined colander to strain your berry mixture.
To make the jelly:
Pour the juice into a sauce pan. Open 2 packages of liquid fruit pectin (powdered will not work). Use small jars to hold your pectin upright while you prepare the jelly.
Add sugar to the juice in sauce pan. Bring to boil. Stir in liquid pectin. Bring to a full rolling boil. Boil 1 minute.
You can freeze or process this jelly in jars with a water bath canner.
Remove jelly from heat. Ladle hot jelly into hot sterilized jars. Adjust lids and rings leaving 1/4 inch head space. Process 10 minutes in a water bath. Set to cool.
Disclaimer: Always follow directions specific to your equipment and elevation for canning. Dispose of any home canned goods that show signs of spoilage which can include: bulging lids, leaking, corrosion, cloudy, mushy, moldy foods or disagreeable odors.