I know that blackberry season has been over for a week or two here in Nova Scotia, but as I’ve been very negligent in blogging about my food adventures as of late, I thought I should write this one up because of how very interesting it was. (Nicole and I got married in July out in Alberta, and so most of my time this summer went towards the wedding, and when we got back, most of our time has gone into making house! Which doesn’t mean that there haven’t been food adventures in our house…it just means we’ve been very bad at documenting them.)
So, blackberries! I came across this recipe for blackberry-lime jam in the summer, and automatically knew I had to make it. (Nicole is a jam fiend, and a lime fiend. I earned a ton of spouse browny points for this one!) Out of all the blackberry lime jam recipes I found online (who knew blackberry lime was so popular?) this one’s directions made the most sense, used the least ingredients, and had the same proportions of blackberries we’d just picked. It also meant that I had to learn how to supreme the limes, which I was curious about.
So, how did the recipe fair? Let’s see:
1. Supreming the limes was a bitch. The directions given in the link above were very straightforward, which I really appreciated, but just as the local kitchen blog mentioned in their notes after the recipe, supreming really is a pain in the butt, mostly because limes are such small fruit. But, I figured since Kaela said she wished she’d supremed her limes to cut some of the bitterness in the jam, I thought I would take the time. Even though by the end of six limes, I was kind of grumbly, I was glad I learned how to do this, and later on while eating the jam, I was glad I took the time.
2) I should have paid attention to Kaela when she said lime was the predominant flavour in this jam. 6 limes?! I might have cut out a lime or two…
3) I mixed up the jam, and strained half of the seeds out of it with our new jelly bag (no more unfortunate pictures of me straining juice through new nylons! yay!) just because I didn’t want the massive amount of seeds. I used Certo pectin (this is what I had on hand), which may or may not have been the right thing to do rather than the same kind of pectin the recipe called for (more on that later).
4) Problem: When I poured the package of Certo into the jam mixture, the Certo package told me to add 7 cups of sugar to blackberry jam, while Kaela’s recipe only called for 1 cup, but said use up to 3 cups of sugar if you liked sweeter jam. I wasn’t really sure which recipe to follow at this point, but the mixture was much tarter than I like (which is saying something), so I added a second cup of sugar. At this point, Nicole said that was sweet enough for her, so I processed the jam.
I knew something wasn’t quite right when I was pouring the jam into the jars. It was much too runny (it was thick, but not really thick). I had boiled the jam for as long as Kaela’s recipe called for, so by all accounts, I figured things should have been good. We water-bathed the jars and let them sit on the counter to cool down and seal afterwards, and even a few hours later, the “jam” was not quite solid. It looked gorgeous, but something seemed wrong. So, we went on a hunt to figure out what went wrong.
God Bless the Blog Food In Jars. While scanning the internet, I came across the blog post entitled Canning 101: How to Save Runny Jam which gave me this sage advice: “If you don’t want to invest any additional work in that jam, all you have to do is change expectations. If it’s just sort of runny, call it preserves. If it’s totally sloshy, label it syrup and move on with your life.”
She then went on to tell me that if I couldn’t let go of my runny jam (which I knew I couldn’t) to wait 24-48 hours to see if the pectin would kick in. She then went on to describe a list of ways I could save the jam, including the most useful jam advice I’ve had in a long time–the plate test.
In the end, I ended up having a funeral the week we made this jam and so there was suddenly no more free time for me to re-open the jam and make it again. I took that sage advice and labelled my sloppy jam “blackberry lime preserves” and decided to be happy with that. But if I had had the time to care more about my future breakfast foods, I would have probably also added another cup of sugar to the recipe (reason being: we opened one of the jars the other day, and the jam was still a bit tart for our tastes, but it might have also helped to thicken things up just that tad bit more that it needed), and boiled it a bit longer.
In the end, I’m pretty happy with the preserves we have–it’s super tasty in crepes, and even good on toast if you don’t mind licking your fingers!