Both of these recipes are quicker than the vintage versions, but just as delicious!
It’s berry season and that means time to make some jam. I usually make strawberry jam, sometimes blueberry, raspberry if there are enough to be found, but always blackberry! It is one of my favorite kitchen gifts, and on the rare occasions when I actually eat jam myself, it is the one I want, and family members and friends look forward to the little jam jars with the dark and flavorful jewel-toned deliciousness inside.
Gifts from the kitchen
I make a lot and plan to give them as gifts months from now, so I can them in a hot water bath. However, you can make a smaller batch and keep it in the refrigerator and give the rest away right now, no processing necessary, and even quicker.
My mother made her blackberry jam with berries and sugar and a green apple thrown in to add extra pectin. The jam had to be cooked for quite a long time to gel. I remember her making little tests to see if it was ready by putting a dab of the hot jam on a plate she had placed in the freezer. Almost immediately, the jam jelled to its finished consistency. Sometimes it took more than one tests to get the jam to the right stage, and sometimes we had lots of “blackberry sauce” for the year! Not an exact science.
Shortcuts to delicious
In her later years, mom used powdered pectic which cut down on the cooking time considerably, and was more consistent in the results, so that is how I usually make it now, at least for bigger batches.
So often when I was growing up, there would be my mother’s homemade bread sitting on the counter when the jam was ready. The two go together perfectly. Usually, mom made her basic white loaf which included milk and melted butter, our family’s favorite. However, once she bought her first food processor, she added a quick yeast bread to her repertoire which used just flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and water. She used regular yeast and bloomed it for 10 minutes in the water and sugar before adding the flour. I’ve substituted instant yeast and just mixed everything together all at once to save those few minutes! I said this was quick!
It’s Sunday, let’s make a memory
So, you have the time now! Some Sunday–– and Sunday is a perfect day to do this if only to give an anchor to the week so we know what day it is––mix up the bread, enlist the kids to help! While the bread is rising, make your jam, and tell some stories of your own childhood, or even the childhood of your parents!
The jam will be ready and waiting after the bread cools, and you’ll hand down not only the bread- and jam-making skills, but a whole new batch of family memories.
Quick Homemade Honey Whole Wheat Bread
- 1 ½ cups lukewarm water
- 2 tbsp. native honey
- 2 packages instant yeast
- 2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 2 cups unbleached flour
- 1 tsp. salt
Put the water and honey in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until the honey is mixed in and add the yeast, flour, and salt. Run for 10 seconds or so, then use one-second pulses until it all forms together into a little ball. This usually takes about a minute. Once it has formed into a ball, I let the food processor go for about six or seven seconds.
Turn out onto a lightly floured board and give it a few kneads. I still love this part, and it only takes a couple of minutes, although this is not necessary at all.
Place in a greased bowl, turn it around so the dough is oiled on all sides. Cover with plastic or a tea towel and place in a warm spot for an hour.
The dough should be double in size. Release the dough from the bowl, it will collapse, it is supposed to. Shape it into a loaf, and place in s greased loaf pan, drizzle a little oil over the top, cover again, and place in that warm spot for another hour.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place in the middle rack of the oven. Bake for about 35 minutes and check. The internal temperature should be about 200 degrees, and when tapped, the bread should sound a bit hollow. The most reliable test is the temperature.
Let cool completely, then slice and enjoy! As with any homemade bread, please don’t be tempted to cut into it hot. You will ruin the texture of your loaf and be sad. Much better to be frustrated, and you will because the whole house will smell like a bakery and you need to be patient.
This recipe is a variation on the recipe on the Sure-Jell powdered pectin box, and it’s tried and true. I’ve added a pinch of salt, which mom always did to every jam or jelly, and although it doesn’t call for it, I add the lemon juice to brighten it up. The blackberries are acidic enough so that you don’t have to, but, well, mom always did! You can also follow the directions for a lower sugar jam.
- 4 pints blackberries, 5 cups crushed
- 1 box pectin
- 7 cups sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Pinch of salt
Prepare you jars and lids by washing in hot sudsy water and rinsing well. Keep warm in a pot of hot water and set aside.
It is wise to enlist the kids to handle the crushing of the berries! The sugar, not so much…
Rinse and pick over the blackberries for stems and odd ones. Crush with a potato masher until most of the berries are broken up.
Place in a large stockpot along with the pectin. You can also add a teaspoon of butter to reduce foaming, I usually do.
Bring to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down and add the sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Bring back to a boil, and when it creeps up the side of the pan and comes to a mad rolling boil you can’t stir down, start timing one minute.
Shut off the heat, and skim any foam from the top. Fill your jars, wiping the rims with a clean cloth dipped in hot water, and place lids on top. Put your ring on finger tight only, and set aside.
You can stop here and let the jam set overnight, then refrigerate.
If you want to process them, fill your canner with hot water and bring to a boil. Add your jars with the water 2 inches above the top of the jars. Bring back to a full boil and start timing 15 minutes.
Remove from the canner, let sit overnight, and store in a cool spot.
You can also use your freezer!
Or freeze! Make a big batch according to the Sure-Jell freezer jam directions in the package. Remember, the Ball jars are “can and freeze” just choose jars that do not have a neck, wide-mouth or straight sided, and do not overfill them. The jam will expand when frozen, so err on the side of caution and give it lots of space.
Make it later. You can also do what my mother did –– toss your berries into the freezer and take them out when you want to make your jam, following the directions as for fresh. The advantage is you can do this in the middle of winter when it is pleasant to stand over a hot stove, and you can make up just what you want!
Note: You can also add a bit of cinnamon or allspice to the berries.
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