Saturday, July 17, 2010

In A Jam

I've been in a mood lately to make jam. Last month's strawberries made some of the best jam ever. And, last week at the farmer's market, my favorite berry guy had added boysenberries to his offerings - irresistible!

I left the berries out on the counter overnight so My Beloved could have some on his oatmeal in the morning, but they were fragile enough that I didn't dare leave them any longer. I decided to try a new kind of jam.

Boysenberries are very seedy, as you can see, so I decided to strain out the seeds. I didn't really make jelly, as I didn't strain out all the solids, just the seeds. It was somewhat tedious to press all that berry pulp with the back of a ladle through a strainer just fine enough to catch the seeds, but the resulting jam was well worth the effort.

Three little boxes, perhaps 2 or 3 cups of berries before mashing, made just one eight-ounce jar of jam, plus a little blob left over.
I ate some of the leftover on my toast the next morning. It was very firm - clearly, boysenberries have a lot of natural pectin, as I added none. The color is a rich, dark red that stained my wooden spoon permanently. The scent is of ripe berries and, because I use very little sugar, the taste is sweet-tart, just as the fresh berries are.

If the berry man has boysenberries again next week, I'll be tempted to make more jam for gifts; this single jar will last us for months so we don't need more for ourselves, but I can imagine that several friends would welcome a jar of this essence of summer.

Boysenberry Jam (makes 1-8oz jar of jam with seeds removed)

3 baskets ripe boysenberries, mashed (boysenberries come in smaller baskets than strawberries - these were the smaller baskets)
1/2 cup sugar (scant - it's important to taste the mashed berries as you add the sugar a little at a time, to make sure you don't add too much. If the fruit is sweet, add less!)

Mash the berries with a potato masher and pass the pulp through the strainer with holes small enough to catch the seeds, if you wish. (If you leave the seeds in, you will retain more volume and likely you will get 2 or 3 jars of jam.) Discard the seeds. In a pot at least twice as large as the pulp requires, add the sugar and stir to dissolve.

When the sugar has dissolved, bring the pot to a boil over high heat and boil for about 15 minutes. The jam will rise dramatically up the sides of the pot during this process - that's why you need a big pot. When the boiling becomes thick and the bubbles large and shiny, drip a little test onto a cold plate and, after a minute or two, push through it with your finger. If the jam doesn't run back in to cover your finger mark, it's ready.

Follow directions for bottling the jam given on the box of jars or just put it in a clean jar and refrigerate if you plan to use it right away.

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Blogger Chilebrown said...

Whenever I hear about boysenberries, it brings back memories of Knotts Berry Farm.

Saturday, July 17, 2010  
Blogger Greg said...

Sweet! I love the photo with the spoon. Gives it depth and scale.Slathered on toast, I can only imagine.

Saturday, July 17, 2010  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

It's so very California.

(Chilebrown, I went to high school down the road from Knott's Berry Farm for one year.)

I admire your "small batch" preserving, and the low sugar. Yumz.

Saturday, July 17, 2010  
Blogger Ms Brown Mouse said...

Are berries violently expensive over your way? I'd love to make jam but even in season good berries are about $7 - $9 a punnet, or more. It's cheaper to buy jam, fancy, imported, low-sugar jam *sigh*

Saturday, July 17, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Chilebrown, I gather lots of Californians have that association with boysenberries.

Greg, yes, one can only take so many pictures of jam in jars.

Cookiecrumb, I'm finding that small batches are pretty easy to do and you don't end up with a dozen all the same. Yay!

Ms Mouse, good heavens! Our organically grown strawberries are about $5 for three heaping baskets at the farmer's market, which translate into about six 4-oz jars. It's not cheap jam, but a single 8-oz jar of June Taylor strawberry jam (my heroine!) would be $13. We are blessed by living so close to such abundant produce.

Sunday, July 18, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Ms Mouse, the boysenberries were slightly more expensive than strawberries, but still relatively cheap compared to yours.

Sunday, July 18, 2010  

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