Berries are plentiful right now, and the squirrel in me is transforming and tucking away these treasures for the rest of the year.
I went to the berry farm today and what a selection! I was looking for blackberries, but went away with more blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries! They also offered currants and black raspberries, but I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew and store this week.
My favorite fruit!
My favorite berry of all time is the humble blackberry, so I bought enough to make jam, blackberry syrup, and to tuck in the freezer to make a pie at Christmastime.
These gems grew in profusion in the wild on the dirt road where I lived when I was a child, and they remain one of my strongest summer memories. The best patch was along the rim of a sandbank near our home. I would go out each morning with my brothers and we would pick our fill and tons more for my mom, braving the thorny canes!
For a glorious month in high summer, we had blackberry pie, blackberry muffins, blackberry ice cream, and my mom made batches of blackberry jam to save for the rest of the year. She also froze the berries to use in the winter. If you don’t want to heat up your kitchen right now, you can freeze your local berries and make jam, pies, muffins, and blackberry syrup when the weather is cold!
The process of making the gifts
Although I rarely eat jams or jelly myself, I love the process of making and canning them to give as gifts during the year. I do love a piece of toast now and them with the blackberry jam, and it transports me instantly to my mother’s kitchen. To me, there’s nothing like the flavor of blackberries!
I still make mom’s jam every year and give it away. It is one of my favorite connections to my childhood and to my mother and all she taught me.
Use it as you would any syrup
I also make her blackberry syrup. This is a versatile item that can be used to top pancaked or waffles, cheesecake or other desserts. Drizzle it over a little wheel of brie and sprinkle with toasted pecans! My favorite use is to turn it into blackberry soda with a little club soda. Just a splash of the syrup is all you need. It is also divine using champagne instead of the club soda.
It was hot today, so I made the syrup (a simplified version of mom’s), which is really quick and easy. You could also use raspberries, blueberries, and probably any other favorite berry! You can also adjust the ration of berries to sugar if you like.
Since I bought plenty of berries, tomorrow I’ll tackle the jam!
Makes three cups of syrup
- 1 ½ lbs. blackberries (about 4 cups)
- 1 ½ lbs. sugar (about 3 cups)
- 1 cup water
- Juice of one lemon
Place everything in a saucepan over medium high heat.
Bring to a boil, reduce to a gentle boil, and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture will thicken more as it sets.
During this time, take out your masher or immersion blender (much quicker) and break up the berries as much as possible.
Pour through a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Don’t press the berries, but every now and then, use a spatula to gently move the berries that have accumulated on the bottom to let the juice flow easier.
Keeping options: Store in the refrigerator for up to a month in a sterilized jar. Or, you can process it in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Or, just freeze it!
Of course, you can also just use the berries in a pie, especially if you have some helping hands!
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