Confession. (shhhhh!) I've never made jam before.
Or rather, I'd never made jam until this month. I always liked to think about making jam, but I never really got around to actually trying it. Partly it was because I'd never learned how to can things and partly it was because I thought it would be way too much work for a small payoff. You know, those conjured images of stirring fruit in large vats over steaming stovetops, hair tied back in a kerchief and wiping sweat from your brow for hours on end... Clearly I had no idea how making jam works.
This batch came together in only around an hour of active work (granted I didn't preserve it, so that would add a little extra time) and it made around 8 six-ounce jars of heavenly goodness.
I whipped these up the other weekend as part of the batch of homemade stocking stuffers I referenced in an earlier post. I have been dying to post this recipe every since, but figured I probably shouldn't post all of my sisters' stocking stuffers online before actually giving them out. So here we are. Belated, but ever so delicious.
I decided it was finally time for me to attempt jam in the interest of their Christmas stockings, so then the main question was just what jam would it be? I should probably have gone with a tried and true recipe from someone else's invention, but I had the creative itch. I decided on blackberry fairly quickly. Let's be honest, when Aldi has $0.68 cartons of pristine blackberries, the decision really makes itself.
Once I had the blackberries, I had a good think about what direction to take them. I'd been wanting to try making a gin and blackberry cocktail for awhile and that kept popping into my head. Why not add gin? It would add a nice herbal undertone and help with the preservation to boot. Ginberry it would be! Top it off with some citrus to round it all out and voila. Jam would be made.
And I tell you what. It worked.
Seriously, though. Aaron and I have been binge eating the extra jars on our toast every morning. It was a wrench to give any of it away. This may just be a regular thing. So far we've just been inhaling it on toast, but I'm going to try it atop a wheel of brie sometime soon. It would play well with both sweet and savory, so try it out in any venue you like. And let me know how it turns out! I'd love to hear what all you pair it with.
yield: 8 6-oz jars
3 lbs blackberries 2 cups granulated sugar juice of 3 limes zest of 3 limes ¼ cup plus a splash of gin
In a large pot (a Dutch oven is perfect), toss the blackberies and sugar until evenly coated. Allow these to sit for at least 2-4 hours, stirring occasionally.
Once the berries have begun to break down, add the lime juice, zest, and gin.
Bring the berry mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook (uncovered and stirring frequently) for approximately 30 minutes, or until the berries have mostly broken down and the jam has begun to reduce and thicken.
At this point, you can either strain out the seeds or allow the jam to remain seeded. I opted for a middle ground: I pressed about ¾ of the jam through a strainer (a large strainer and a wide metal spoon are excellent for this) and then stirred the seeded portion through the seedless to retain some of the berry chunks.
Using a ladle and funnel, fill the jars with the hot jam and screw the lids on tightly. Allow them to cool to touch, then refrigerate.*
Attach labels if desired and use within a month. (Download a page of labels for free here.)
*Alternately, you can preserve these with standard canning procedures. I planned to use all of the jam within a few weeks, so the additional steps were not necessary.