Back in July when I was working at Bartram's Garden I foraged several quarts of blackberries from the blackberry bush (more like blackberry hedge) in the parking lot. I suffered sunburn and mosquito bites to harvest those berries, then I let them sit in the freezer for several months before getting around to processing them. Wild berries are notoriously seedy, so I decided to make jelly.
**straining the juice through cheesecloth**
When I squeezed all of the juice out of the berries I came up a little short, so I ended up using 4 cups of blackberry juice and 2 cups of peach simple syrup left over from the preserving I did earlier this month. The peach syrup thing was just a whim, I was shocked that there wasn't enough berry juice from all of those berries so I just improvised to finish the recipe.
In total, I used 4 cups blackberry juice, 2 cups peach simple syrup, 7 cups sugar, and 1 box pectin. And I found out that that is waaaaaaay too much sugar. So much that it almost didn't set (it did, but it's very liquidy). I would have thought that the more sugar you put in the better it would set, but that's not what happened.
I brought the juice to a boil, added sugar and pectin, returned to a boil, and poured into clean jars.
**Clean jars, fresh from the dishwasher.**
**18 cups final product.**
After pouring the hot jelly into jars, the last step is a 10 minute sterilization in boiling water, which is still very difficult because of a lack of jar lifters and rack for the pot (though I hear that that might change come Christmas :) ). I usually put a dish towel on the bottom of the pot and use tongs to lift the jars in and out.
A few of my coworkers at Bartram's took this jelly home with them, of course. It's only fair, considering they helped me pick the berries and they suffered the same mosquitoes and sunburn! Ah, what I wouldn't give for a little sunburn right now, it's been in the 40s and raining recently. We actually turned the heat on in the house, not a good sign. But eating this jelly on my toast every morning (in my new work space!) makes me smile. It gives me a little summer to start my day.