In the last couple of weeks, I’ve headed north to meet Julia, with munchkin in tow, at Greig Farm in Red Hook, NY to pick blackberries. It’s a large farm, spread out across rolling hills, and a beautiful one: acres and acres of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and apples, as far as the eye can see. We’ve been lucky enough to pick bright & sunny days, yet there is always a breeze on the blackberry hill: it’s really a pleasant place to pick. It’s not quite peak season for blackberries, so the picking has taken a while, but I’ve managed to come away with 7 pounds on each visit; now I have a few pounds tucked away in the deep freeze and several new blackberry preserves to tell you about. Starting with the simplest: a 3-ingredient wonder, just blackberries, lemon & sugar.
This one is a Ferber-style preserve that is simplicity itself: you taste bright blackberries, tangy lemon and just a hint of sugar sweetness. This year’s trick of increasing the lemon juice in order to help the set, and add more liquid, to a decreased-sugar preserve seems to be working well for me. This one set quite nicely, rather firm actually, for a preserve (if I tip the jar upside down, nothing moves, but if I were to shake it, it would definitely break up) and the flavor is lovely: just blackberries, singing against a backnote of lemon, quite tart, but just enough sugar to avoid being sour. As it sometimes goes, this recipe exactly filled four jars (two half pint and two quarter-pint) so I don’t have a picture to show you of the set, but from what I can tell, it looks great. Since blackberries are a bit hardier than raspberries, they really hold their shape in the preserve, and you can see whole berries poking up just at the top of the jelly.
If you’re planning on picking some blackberries this season, it’s hard to go wrong with this preserve: simple, classic and elegant. You’ll be channeling Martha before you know it. (People don’t have to know that you spattered indelible blackberry juice all over your favorite T-shirt while making it.) Enjoy!
- 1 and 1/2 lbs blackberries, rinsed & picked through
- 12 oz (1 and 1/2 cups) sugar (organic evaporated cane juice)
- zest & juice of 2 medium lemons
- Day 1. Combine berries, sugar and lemon in a large non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and stir just until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, transfer to a heat-safe bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Day 2. Prepare canner, jars and lids. Strain juice into a large preserving pan, Dutch oven or deep skillet. Reserve berries in a strainer suspended over a bowl (they will continue to drip). Bring berry juice to a boil over high heat; continue to boil, stirring minimally, until juice becomes syrupy, bubbles thickly, and leaves a clean line on the bottom of the pot when you scrape a spoon through (syrup will read 220 degrees F). Add berries and any additional juice; return to a boil and boil hard until preserve returns to 220 degrees. Cook for 1 minute, then turn off heat, fill hot jars to 1/4-inch headspace, wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Yield about 3 cups.
- This is a small batch; in a wide enough pan, you could probably double this without issue.
- This preserve is quite tart: delightfully so, I think, but if you prefer things sweeter, feel free to add additional sugar.
- I wanted to keep this one simple, but I was itching to add a dried chile. I think a bright bit of heat, like an Arbol or spicy Thai chile, would be fabulous.
Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year. Refrigerated, use within 1 month.