I’ve been going out and getting nettle-stung in search of the wild blackberries that are growing in our garden. (Nettles offend me mightily. Plants do not try to kill you in the land of my people, at least, nothing but Devil’s Club, and Devil’s Club looks like it wants to kill you from forty feet away.) Anyway, I’m apparently too easily taunted by blackberries and when I see them I feel obliged to get them immediately instead of preparing myself sufficiently against the nettles, so it’s this kind of adversarial relationship.
I am told that other people do not have adversarial relationships with berries. The berries do not taunt them, and they do not pluck the berries. It works out for them, but it seems strangely passive to me. :)
Anyway, so I’d gone into the garden and gotten a couple of cups:
and then went down to a stretch along the road where I’d seen some promising berry bushes earlier in the summer. Tragically, they had all clearly JUST been cut back, and there were no berries. #woe I came home and found more in the front garden, and worked my way up to about 3 cups. As a friend said, it hasn’t been a great blackberry summer, but dammit, 8 cups makes a batch of jam and I was DETERMINED to get a batch’s worth of wild berries so I could do a taste test comparison between a batch made with wild berries & a batch made with commercially grown berries. I thought it might take all autumn to find that many wild berries, but I was determined.
But then I found the nettle bush berries, which were many and lush and taunting and ow ow ow goddamn nettles ow ow ow! And I got another cup and a half! And there were MANY MORE on the other side of the little fence, which I did not dare climb across that day, because I was insufficiently armored!
Yesterday, though. Yesterday I armored myself up and went forth and crashed through decades’ worth of overgrown, dried brambles that snapped mightily beneath my feet, and negotiated with new brambles (brambles can be negotiated with. nettles just need to die in fire.) and hardly got stabbed at all while collecting more and more and more berries. Every time I forged a little farther on, I could see MANY MORE ripe berries only a little distance away, TAUNTING ME.
I cleared out pretty well everything inside the next ring of nettles, and left many many unripe berries on the vine, so it is my great and passionate hope that we have enough warm days left to ripen those ones so I don’t have to go into the nettles, which I suspect I’ll do anyway, armed with clippers, because I am being TAUNTED BY THE KNOWLEDGE THAT THERE ARE RIPE BERRIES IN THERE.
But I did get enough for blackberry jam!
In fact, that there is about 6.5 cups’ worth so now I have an extra 3 cups of wild blackberries and will need to either Go Get More For Jam or possibly make a crumble.
And I made the jam last night, and it’s freakin’ amazing, woo!
Kit’s Blackberry Jam
8 cups blackberries (5 cups crushed)
1 package sure-jell regular (not low-sugar) pectin
1 green apple, quartered but not peeled (optional, helps it to set firmly)
1 knob butter
5.5 cups sugar
Pour berries & pectin into a fairly large saucepan. Squish them a few times with a potato masher. Put the butter & the quartered apple in, turn heat to high, and stir until the mixture has come to a full boil that you can’t stir out.
Pour in the sugar all at once. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly, and boil for one minute. Remove the apple chunks.
Ladle into prepared jam jars and let set for 24 hours. Should be perfect. :)
Note: This recipe used 8 cups of wild blackberries, which are about 1/3rd the size of commercial berries. If you’re using commercial berries, you should probably go ahead and crush them to get your 5 cups, because if you just use 8 cups of commercial berries you’ll end up with blackberry-colored sugar rather than anything that tastes like jam. :)