Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Blackberry Jam - Fresh Berry Recipe and Hot Water Bath Canning tutorial

Ever since I was a little girl, our family has enjoyed homemade Blackberry Jam. The Ozark mountain roadside near my late Grandma Gracie's home had dozens of blackberry bushes that produced plenty of fruit.

Back then, before there was a McDonalds and a Taco Bell around every corner, people would actually pack their own "to-go" food for road trips.  Sometimes, Grandma Gracie would make her one-of-a-kind sandwiches and treats for us to enjoy on our long drive home after a visit to her house.  

To give you some perspective, Grandma Gracie was born in 1888.  She married young to a farmer who became the local minister and postmaster, gave birth to twelve children at home, raised all her children, and lived her entire life (over 90 years) in a very rural area of Texas County, Missouri.

Grandma Gracie Roderick family, Missouri, 1946

If we wanted jam or cobbler, all we had to do was pick the blackberries. Grandma Gracie would turn those berries into jams and cobblers for us, and it was the best stuff on earth.

Today, I live far away from the old Ozark Mountain family farm, and I miss the taste of her Blackberry Jam.  HEB had a sale on fresh blackberries. That was motivation enough for me to make some jam.  I bought two cases (12 tubs per case) of their 6 oz. tubs.  For your reference, that purchase of 24 tubs made enough jam to fill 27 half-pint (8 oz.) jelly jars.

Making Blackberry Jam conjured up wonderful memories of my dear Grandma Gracie.  Her irresistible Blackberry Jam and real dairy butter, spread between two slices of her famous homemade bread....those were the best sandwiches ever.  You just can't buy "to-go" food like that at McDonalds. 

There are plenty of great Blackberry Jam recipes available.  Because I know and trust the Ball brand, I chose to use a recipe that uses Ball Fruit Pectin.


Here is the recipe I use from the Ball Real Fruit Classic Pectin Label.  The red arrows and dots are the steps I followed for Blackberry Jam.

I'm including these photos from my own Ball Blue Book as a reference for quality information on proper procedures for hot water bath canning or "boiling water" canning.  The  1995 Ball Blue Book Volume I is available on, or you can buy the latest edition here on the Ball website .

When buying blackberries, the fresher the better. Prepare your jam as soon as you can when you get them home.  Start by sorting through all the fruit, discarding unusable berries.  Rinse thoroughly in a very clean sink filled with fresh clean water. I placed a dish towel in the bottom of the sink to keep the tender berries out of the sink strainer.

After rinsing, take a handful of berries and place them in a colander.

Spray the fruit in the colander with a solution of 50% water and 50% white vinegar. 

As a side note:  I use vinegar water to clean my sink, countertops, and other kitchen surfaces.  It is a great disinfectant and much safer than chemical sprays.

Vinegar Water Cleaning Spray

After spraying the fruit with the vinegar water. rinse thoroughly with running water to remove the vinegar.  Drain excess water. 

Place your drained berries in a medium size bowl.

Mash berries up well until you have a lovely, juicy pulp.  The directions suggest using a potato masher, but I prefer my pastry cutter to do this part.  It's rounded shape fits the bowl much better than a flat potato masher.

Your berries should resemble the berries shown in the photo below when they're mashed.

The color is just beautiful.

In my case, one 6 oz. tub of fresh berries made just over 1/2 cup of pure berry pulp.

When you're done mashing the berries, place your mashed blackberry pulp into a large pot.  Gradually stir in pectin and mix well.  Then, heat until you bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly.  Add entire measure of sugar, stirring to dissolve. Use good quality sugar.  Cheap sugar is fine for Koolaid, but don't ever use cheap sugar when canning or baking.  Good sugar dissolves much better.  Return mixture to full rolling boil.  Boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.

Skim foam if necessary.  Some people add 1/4 tsp. butter at the same time as  the sugar is added to reduce foaming.  Hey, it's butter, so it WON'T hurt the flavor, lol.

Ladle jam into hot, sterilized jars, one at a time, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  It really helps if you have a soup ladle or a nice cup with a sturdy handle for dipping.  Tip: I kept the jars in hot water (inside tall pot on right) until it was time to fill them with fruit. 

It is best to use a ladle or cup for dipping the fruit out of the pot.

Use a metal funnel for pouring the hot jam from the cup or ladle into the jar.  Believe me, you'll be glad you did.

Use a jar holder to move the hot jars around.  It is nice to have a canning rack to keep the jars from touching the bottom of your pot, but I don't normally use a rack unless I'm canning using a pressure cooker.  Hot water bath canning is a bit less intense than canning with a pressure cooker.

After you fill each hot jar with jam, center the flat lid on top and then twist on the rim till it is finger tight.  To avoid problems with preservation, make sure the flat part of the lid and the top of the jar (the parts that touch each other to make the seal) don't have any stray bits of jam on them.  Then, place each jar into your prepared hot water bath.  As you can see, I used the same pot for preheating jars as the one for the actual hot water bath.  Just keep the water good and hot!  

Once your hot water bath canner is full of jam jars and those jars are covered with 1 to 2 inches of hot water, place the lid on the hot water bath canner and bring the heat up to a gentle, steady boil, adjusting for altitude.  Process for 10 minutes. Then turn off heat, remove hot water bath canner lid, and let jars stand inside canner for 5 minutes.

Remove jars with your handy jar holder and cool.  Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lids should not flex up and down when center is pressed. 

I hope you consider making some homemade Blackberry Jam.  I love it.  The second time I made some, I added about 2 tsps. flavoring to the batch of jam at the same time that I added the sugar.  It tastes great with or without the vanilla.

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  1. I love homemade jams and jellies!! Just returning the visit and am now following via GFC:)

    I would also love to invite you to share this post or any of your favorite posts at Freedom Fridays Blog Hop! (goes live on Thursdays at 7pm mst)

    And also if you get a chance would love for you to join Let's Get Social Sunday and link up your blog and all your social sites to meet new friends and gain more followers:)

    1. Here's the link:)

      So hoping to see you there!

    2. Evelyn,

      You are so kind. Thanks for the follows and the invitations. As you can see, I have taken you up on your invite and am participating in this Friday's Blog Hop!


  2. Hey! Just thought I'd return the favor and check out your post! I totally know how labor intense canning is, so I can really appreciate this post! Looks delicious!

    1. Jess,

      Thanks for the visit and sweet words.


  3. Blackberry 'anything' is my favorite fruit! What a great tutorial! Thanks so much for linking up...and linking Weekend Potluck. Enjoy a great weekend.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I love the Weekend Potluck!


  4. That jam looks lovely! Thank you so much for stopping by my blog. Came by to return the visit and to follow via GFC :o)

  5. I've been intimidated by canning, but this doesn't look too hard! Thanks for sharing!!

  6. That looks delicious!! Thanks for sharing your recipe.


  7. Looks delicious, makes me want to bake biscuits to eat some! One of these days I'll get to do some canning.

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  9. I just found this recipe on Pinterest! I am wondering if I could pulse the blackberries in my food processor instead of mashing them by hand? Thinking I could get the same texture without all the labor.


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