Saturday, March 24, 2012

Blackberry Preserves: our 100th post!

In honor of this being the 100th post on Bicoastal Chefs, I thought I would share something very dear to my heart: Blackberry Preserves 

For me, no preserve can beat a blackberry preserve.

I'm sure my preference is, in part, due to their nuance: somehow luscious and bright at the same time.

But, more than anything they remind me of home.  Picking blackberries in the backyard by the bucketful.  Popping them into your mouth while they are still sun-kissed.  Stains on your hands, stains on your shirt. 
That's the essence of a blackberry preserve.    

And, although these berries will never be as good as those of summers past, they aren't too shabby either.

The canning process for these preserves is, as with all my berry preserves, quick and rewarding. Get them all into your Dutch oven.
Sprinkle them with sugar.
Use your hand to scrunch the sugar into the berries.
Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Let it simmer for 30 minutes or so.  Add a squeeze of lemon if you like.  And you're done.
That is, unless you want to lick the measuring cup.
And the 'bowl'.  Like you are making cookies or something.
Here's to enjoying the taste of home.

[the previously posted]
Berry Preserves (adapted from my father and Jamie at Home)
2 lbs fresh berries (blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
1/2 cup sugar
Squeeze of lemon (optional)

Sterilize jars* and put a couple plates in the freezer.

Wash and dry the berries. Pour the berries into a 10-inch wide pot. Pour the sugar on top of the berries. Squnch the berries with your hands until all of the sugar has dissolved. Put the pan over medium heat, and simmer the berries for 20-30 minutes. Skim off the foam and stir every five minutes. Stir more frequently towards the end.  Add some lemon if you like, to try and preserve the color.

In order to test for doneness, remove the pot from the heat. Then, take the plate out of the freezer and put a small spoonful of the syrup on the plate. Put the plate back in the freezer for 3 minutes. Take the plate out and draw your finger through the middle. If the two sides of the syrup slowly come back together, then you have soft set preserves. If the two sides do not come back together at all, then you have medium-firm set preserves. If the lines quickly run together, return the pot to heat and continue to simmer until done.

Ladle the preserves into the sterilized jars, and process in boiling water for 10 minutes.

*In order to sterilize jars, wash the jars and then place them in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Leave the jars in the hot water while your berries are cooking down.