Sunday, July 17, 2022

The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook: Blackberry Jam with Lemon Balm

I've found a local farm that allows you to come and pick fresh blackberries straight off the bushes, and I must, I couldn't resist.  Nothing is better than a fresh ripe berry.  But when you pick a giant basket of berries bursting with juice and ready to be eaten, there's no way that you can make it through the whole bunch before they go bad.  So the only thing to do is cook them up into a delicious jam that you can enjoy throughout the year.

Blackberry Jam with Lemon Balm
From The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook

2 to 3 (10-inch) sprigs lemon balm or lemon basil
3½ pounds midsummer blackberries
1¾ pounds granulated sugar
3 ounces strained freshly squeezed lemon juice

Place a saucer with five metal teaspoons in a flat place in your freezer for testing the jam later. Rinse the herb sprigs under cold running water and pat them dry between two clean kitchen towels.

Combine the berries, sugar, and lemon juice in an 11- or 12-quart copper preserving pan or a wide stainless steel kettle. Heat slowly, stirring with a large heatproof spatula, until the sugar is dissolving and the berries begin releasing a lot of juice. Turn the heat up to high and cook, stirring frequently. Test the jam for doneness 15 to 20 minutes from the time it reaches a rolling boil.

To test for doneness, carefully transfer a small representative half-spoonful of jam to one of your frozen spoons. Replace the spoon in the freezer for 3 to 4 minutes, then remove and carefully feel the underside of the spoon. It should be neither warm nor cold; if still warm, return it to the freezer for a moment. Tilt the spoon vertically to see whether the jam runs; if it just refuses to run, and if it has thickened to a near-jelly consistency, it is done. If it runs, cook it for another few minutes, stirring, and test again as needed.

Using a stainless steel spoon, skim any remaining foam from the surface of the jam. Place the herb springs into the jam, stir, and let steep for a couple of minutes off the heat. Carefully taste the jam and either remove the sprigs or leave them in for another minute or two, keeping in mind that their flavor will be milder once the jam has cooled. Using tongs, discard the sprigs. Pour the jam into sterilized jars and process according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Makes 5 8-ounce jars

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