May 2012

Low added sugar blackberry jam

Posted on May 29, 2012 at 8:04 am in

Having picked a lot of delicious blackberries at Holmestead Farm as part of my fun U-Pick experience, I set out to create some awesome low added sugar blackberry jam, using Pomona’s Universal Pectin.

Yield: about 5 cups (5 jelly jars)
Thoroughly rinse and pick through your blackberries

  • 4 cups blackberries
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons Pomona’s Pectin
  • 2 teaspoons calcium water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

1. Prepare jars by washing and rinsing. I leave the jars in the hot water bath canner while I bring it up to a boil.

2. Measure fruit into pan with lemon juice (you can use lime juice instead if you prefer).

3. Add calcium water into pan and stir well.

4. Measure room temperature honey into separate bowl. Thoroughly mix proper amount of pectin powder into honey (if you prefer to use sugar, you can use 3/4 to 2 cups of it instead of honey).

5. Bring fruit to boil. If you prefer a chunky texture just stir the fruit mix – if you want something a bit smoother, you can mash the fruit or even feed it through a food mill to remove seeds. If you want seedless, add an extra cup of fruit to correct for the loss of bulk in the milling process. Add pectin and honey mix and stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes while cooking to dissolve pectin. Return to boil and remove from heat.

6. Fill jars to 1/4″ of top. Wipe rims clean. Screw on 2-piece lids. Put filled jars in boiling water to cover. Boil 10 min. (add 1 min. more for every 1,000 ft. above sea level). Remove from water. Let jars cool. Check seals–lids should be sucked down. Lasts about a hypothetical 3 weeks once opened, but if you’re anything like me it’s doubtful the jar will last more than 3 days 😉

The most awesome part about the Pomona’s Pectin is that you can scale the recipes either way – you can double it or halve it without in any way affecting the quality of the finished product. You cannot do this with conventional pectin, hence my preference for Pomona’s.

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Tips for a successful u-pick experience

Posted on May 28, 2012 at 9:33 am in

As various fruits come into season, u-pick places are opening their doors to the hungry. Resources like Pick Your Own come into their own, but here are some things you need to consider.

Getting there

  • Unless you live in a rural area the likelihood is that you will be driving for an hour or more.
  • Make sure your GPS or map navigator knows how to get you there, or that you have good directions. It is quite disheartening to wind up miles away from your intended destination!
  • Leave early. In Southern summers you don’t want to be picking at noon or in the afternoon when the heat and humidity are at their worst. If you set off at 4pm and the place closes at 5pm, you will not be happy.
  • Wear appropriate clothes. Blueberries and blackberries can stain – you won’t want to wear light colours if you tend to wipe your hands.
  • Bring a hat. (Yes, I know hats are clothes, but it’s easy to forget until you’re out there!)
  • Take plenty of drinks with you. Picking can feel like work (don’t volunteer to pick 2 gallons of blueberries at 1pm in July!) and be very hot. Don’t let dehydration or sunstroke spoil your day.
  • Apply sun block liberally before you arrive even if you think it will be overcast. Lobster is not a good colour for most people!
  • Bugs. Where there is fruit, there are bugs – bees, wasps, grasshoppers, flies, and so on. Also bear in mind that being eaten alive by mosquitoes is not fun so don’t be stingy with the bug spray.
  • Once you’re there

  • Allow yourself enough time to pick the fruit. If you have children it will take longer than if you are with adults only; this isn’t only because children tend to eat more than they leave in the buckets!
  • Specific fruits have their own demands – large blackberries pick a lot faster than blueberries, for example. Allow about an hour for a gallon of larger berries, and add half an hour for smaller ones.
  • If you’re planning to make jam, a few less-ripe berries can actually be good; they add a tarter flavour. It’s all up to you! If you only have one person in the family who prefers a less-sweet jam, plan to pick through the berries and just make a small amount of jam with the more tart flavour.
  • Don’t assume the u-pick location takes credit/debit cards. Call ahead and ask, or carry cash. You might also want to ask how much a gallon of the fruit costs so you can bring enough.
  • Many places will decant your berries into plastic grocery bags. You might want to bring a cooler to transport them safely home.
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