Blackberry Lemon Preserves

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!


Blackberry Lemon Preserves


  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.


  1. This is a small batch; in a wide enough pan, you could probably double this without issue.
  2. This preserve is quite tart: delightfully so, I think, but if you prefer things sweeter, feel free to add additional sugar.
  3. 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.




  1. This is actually a wonderful jam. I actually make something similar every year at the beginning of summer in the rhubarb season. It is delicious with rhubarb added to it. A favorite of my family’s. The recipe is on my blog, Love the idea of adding a chili pepper to it. May try that one next summer!!! Love your blog!

  2. Lol, I adore you. You seem to be a step ahead of me. I have two reused strawberry containers (the pound size) plus a bit more of blackberries in the fridge waiting to be made into magic right now. I didn’t get to go picking in such a lovely setting though. Mine were picked after work at my husband’s office building at night using a flashlight.

    I made the first into a strawberry/blackberry mixed jam for him and the request was to make a simple blackberry jam for this batch. My frozen berries from last year were made into a spiced lime jam. I just love the color on blackberries and since I have a free supply for a bit I figure I’d better make the best use of it I can.

    • Clandestine nighttime berry foraging! Love it. We have a few canes in our yard, but they only produce enough to snack on, never enough to make a batch of jam. I’ve yet to find a good source of wild blackberries, but I am lucky to have a couple of good, no-spray farm options in the ‘hood.

      • Not really clandestine, just the only time I get there to pick, and I’d rather not draw the attention of the 100+ workers to the fact that there are berries…..I don’t wanna share.

  3. I am SO glad you did that guest-post over at Food in Jars…This looks wonderful, and just as the wild berries are coming into peak! Thanks so much for the inspiration.

    Can’t wait to get a rainy weekend so I can peruse your archives…

  4. Andrea

    I am very excited to try this!! I have quite literally been searching for over a year to find a recipe using these two particular fruits.

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