On a recent trip to Oregon, we hit sweet blackberry season at it’s peak. We picked til our fingers were purple and prickly and didn’t even make a dent in the bushes outside my sister’s beach house. I found Pomona’s Universal Pectin a preservative free, artificial-sweetener free pectin that jells with low amounts of any added sweetener (sugar, honey, agave), because the pectin is extracted from citrus peel. It’s jelling power is activated by calcium, not by sugar content, so the jam tastes purer because it’s not sweetened to the hilt. I found it at an organic co-op on the Oregon coast but you can get it at Whole Foods.
One box of Pomona’s along with 16 c. mashed berries, or 12 c. mashed peaches makes 18 or 14 8oz. jars respectively. Follow the recipe included in the box, using half pint jars and you’ll have edible holiday gifts for your friends and family. But make sure you keep plenty for yourselves. It’s truly the best jam I’ve ever tasted. And a note on berries…take the time to strain the seeds. It takes twice the fruit but the result is twice as good.
This is a fun thing to do with your kids or friends and canning kits aren’t prohibitively expensive. Ball made the one I inherited from my mom and they’re still making them today. Canning is a lost art but still so meaningful. It’s a way to eat local, seasonal food year round in a responsible, purposeful way.