Sunday, February 23, 2014

Old Fashioned 3-ingredient Blackberry Jam.

 A Mid-Summer Jam Story....or should I say Short Story???

It all started one day, when I heard the sound of heavy vehicles, on the road that goes nowhere, right behind our house.I peeked out of the tiny hole in our fence, only to see that there were two buof Blackberry bushes that grew on the other side of the road. It was a little sad to see them being cut down like that, without any warning or notice. But my logical brain kept on reminding me that Blackberry Brambles are really aggressive bushes that creep and spread like wildfire, can be very invasive and doesn't go down without some serious fight.

My son, once got stuck in one such bramble and in an attempt to get out, got himself almost seriously hurt. He healed just fine, but I could never bring mysef to hate them.These thorny bushes used to hang down heavy, laden with tiny, plump, dark, sweet fruits, which oozed sticky juice as soon as you bit into them. It had become a summertime tradition for kids to go and pluck as many blackberries as they could from the never ending supply those brambles provided. Then the next two days, they would be devoured as is, or stirred into batters of pancakes, waffles and muffins or spooned on to almost everything in the form of luscious compotes.

The last Summer, maybe the kids grew competitive, or maybe it was indeed a bountiful season, we got 3-4 kiddie baskets full of blackberries. These fruits never last fresh more than a couple days, so I was pretty nervous about letting them go to waste. Finally, I made up my mind and decided to make a Jam. But I  wanted to make sure my Jam didnt have any unwanted chemicals or preservatives in it. And what do you do when you need tried and tested recipes, perfected the old fashioned way? You call your Mom. Period.

My Mom always made jams and ketchup at home, and I hardly remember our pantries being ever empty.
I asked her about Jam basics, but our first ten minutes on the topic resulted in a lot of confusion, as she had never made Blackberry Jam, and hence was adamant in parting with her recipe. I finally had to convince her that I would never "abuse" her pure recipe, and only then she told me the recipe. It was simple! 1:1:1!!!!!

I bet she laughed her ass off (Um, sorry Mom, I meant rear end!) after hanging up on me. Oh, Well!!

So this 1:1:1 is the basic recipe behind all her Jams, the numbers denoting the proportion of Sugar to Fruit to Lemon juice. So there is no long story to make short. That is just what I did!
 I had roughly 5 cups of fruit. I washed them really well, dried them with paper towels, and gently mashed them with a wooden spoon.
Then I mixed 5 cups of sugar, the mashed blackberries and  5 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice together, in my heavy duty sauce pan, and brought it to a high boil. I kept it in high boil for 5 minutes,  then reduced the heat to medium-low and simmered it for 20 minutes. Then I removed it from heat, covered the mouth of the sauce pan with a clean dry cotton cloth, and left it to cool.
Not lukewarm cool, but really cool- for about 6-8 hours. When it cools down, it thickens up real nice.
That's when I bottled it up, in sterilized jars, and sealed it to use long after that bountiful Summer is gone.
Please note that : This recipe uses blackberries with their seeds. So, if you prefer a smoother jam, while you are mashing them down, do it in a sieve so that you extract the maximum pulp without seeds. Then, follow the rest of the recipe.

In hindsight, making the jam was one of the best things I did! Because I still have 2 jars of that sweet, tart sticky goodness to remember those brambles by! Until they grow back to the joy and delight of bored kids of Summer, and the terror of overprotective Moms in the neighborhood, I have my delicious jam which never fails to evoke the memories of hot sun, lazy afternoons and cool breezes of summer in that one sweet, tart spoonful. 

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