My apologies for the corny post title, but really, we could not stop singing the Bob Marley the whole time we worked. Because, you know, we were making jam.
And I'd also like to apologize for my absence recently. We were away, you see. I should have told you where I was going and when I'd be back, but this was our first real trip together as a family and between the packing and the stress of last minute worrying I totally forgot. Anyhow, more on our trip later. The short version is that Hubs' family lives in BC and we went out there for a long overdue visit. We haven't been out there in, like, five years! Great Grandma has never even met our Little Guy, which is nuts, but you know, plane tickets don't grow on trees.
Anyhow, while we were there we had the pleasure of spending a day with my sister-in-law's two oldest daughters, who are almost exactly the same age as our Little Dude and Little Guy. It was such a great time, as they kids really get along. Which is a good thing because the weather did NOT co-operate. It rained and drizzled and was grey all day. Eventually we could not stand being inside any more and decided to make a run for the park. Which was just as wet as everywhere else. No sliding or swinging unless you wanted very wet bums. So we wandered from the park into a nearby field for a walk. And guess what we found!
Blackberries! Just miles upon miles of wild blackberry bushes bordered every field. It was kind of amazing. After picking all we could hold in our hands, we headed home (because also, we were wet) and then sent Hubs back out with a plastic bag.
Jam making is such a great activity for kids because you really can't screw it up. We make the no-cook freezer jam, for which you can find the instructions printed on a paper inside any box of Certo pectin crystals (I used the measurements from the Raspberry Jam recipe, because they did not have a Blackberry Jam recipe, and it worked out just fine). I like the Certo Light, because it calls for half the sugar. But we do go ahead and use real sugar. Though you could also use Pomona's Universal Pectin and make it with honey. That totally works too, and is a bit more natural. Just suit yourself. But basically you just wash the fruit, mash the fruit, stir in the pectin, wait half an hour, stir in the sugar, and slam it into some jars. Easy peasy, mac and cheesy as my kids say. You really can't make a mistake. Though it is very, very possible that you will make a mess. The blackberry juice will stain the counter if you are not careful. Just use a little baking soda made into a paste with water and scrub the fresh stains, and they will come right off.
Then, after the pectin was stirred in, it was time to wait. And what better way to spend the time, than with a little reading. We started in on "The House at Plum Creek" and got about three chapters in before we tired of it.
And in the end there was even a little bit of beautiful fresh blackberry juice, from the bottom of the bowl of clean berries. The weight of the layers of berries had sort of juiced some of the bottom ones. This stuff turned out to be very popular. There was only about a half a cup of the stuff, but we divided it into little tiny toy tea cups....
And here's our finished jam! I know, it doesn't look like much, but these are not really jam jars, but half quart canning jars, so if these were actually jam jars, there would be six of them. Which is a respectable batch of jam.
But that jam, it was SO GOOD, that we decided to do it all over again, and this time strain out all the seeds and make jelly. But we needed more berries first. So Hubs went out to brave the brambles again! (Look at those legs! Like he was attacked by a gang of feral cats!) But it was worth it.