How To Freeze Blackberries (And pretty much every other berry for that matter)

Blackberries bring back a lot of memories for me.  My Grandma Newt used to take us to Aunt Jan’s house, usually because I begged and begged to go see her beautiful buckskin gelding “Buck”, and the best donkey in the world “George”.  I always got to sit on Buck, my sister always managed to get George, a point that would be (and still is) brought up to me throughout the years. – I got the horse and my sister got the ass.  There has to be a photo somewhere of an ecstatic me on Buck and a happy but slightly miffed Lauren atop of George.  Both were calm elderly creatures that were treated like kings and we always brought them apples and carrots and plenty of scratches for their ears and backs.  They were well loved and lived to very old ages, both being 36 years old or more before passing.

Big Beautiful Ripe Blackberries

Aunt Jan also had an enormous back berry patch.  I could not reach the top of canes, and they had to be about 4 feet thick.  We’d pick a quart or two and want to go make jam with Newt (because she makes the best jam).  But what happened inevitably every. single. time. was Newt would come out and see so many unpicked berries…the biggest best berries left behind for the birds, which was simply not allowed.  There was a reason they were unpicked, these berries were about 3 feet back into the impenetrable bramble thicket and grandma wasn’t satisfied until we pressed back there and became human pin cushions.  By this time my sister had retreated to George and Buck and I was left picking the damned berries.  At least I got to munch them as I went along, which one day came to a screeching halt when I popped a berry into my mouth and felt something cling to my tongue, panicking spit everything out but the thing was still stuck there, by now I’m totally freaking out so gather up the balls and I reach in and pull out a japanese beetle.  Blackberries weren’t the same for years after that.

Sometimes blackberries begin to ripen at uneven intervals and the easiest way to accumulate the quantities needed for large recipes is to freeze them as they come in, and it couldn’t be simpler.

How To Freeze Blackberries:

  • Rinse berries
  • Dry them on a towel you wouldn’t mind getting stained
  • Spread them one layer thick on a cookie sheet, and freeze 4 hours or overnight
  • Place in a freezer safe container of your choice

To use them after they’ve been frozen, measure when they are still frozen then allow them to thaw.  Drain excess liquid and use in the recipe as directed.

 

 

 

Oh Hot Damn! Strawberry Rhubarb Jam!

This is the first year our four rhubarb plants produced enough stalks to actually do something with, so for the first time I made Strawberry Rhubarb Jam! I just love this combination of two of the seasons first crops. It’s tangy, sweet and perfect on warm flaky biscuits, on top of ice cream, or even smeared all over your morning waffles!

This recipe contains no added pectin to help it thicken so you will need to set aside a bit more time to allow the jam to cook down and thicken on it’s own. As always remember: Safety First! Sterilize your jam jars, lids & rings before you begin. You can do this by running the jars and rings through the dishwasher, or boiling them in a pot on the stove. In a small pan, boil the lids for 5 minutes.

Jam on a fresh warm biscuit…irresistible!

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
Yield: 8, 8oz Jelly Jars
Cook Time: About1 hour

Special Equipment needed:

  • Sterilized jars, lids and rings
  • Funnel
  • Ladle
  • Large pot

Ingredients:

  • 8 Cups Rhubarb, chopped
  • 5 Cups Strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 4 Cups Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • Shot of vanilla – optional

What to do:

In a large pot combine all ingredients, stir gently over medium heat until contents begin to boil but NOT violently. You may need to adjust the heat as you go. Lava jam burns are no fun! Stir occasionally but allow to cook for at least one hour or until the mixture has thickened. When it coats the back of your spoon and doesn’t have runny drips the jam is done! Ladle into prepared jars on a towel, secure rings and lids. Now it’s time to can the jam! Place your jam jars in a hot water bath canner (a large pot will work just fine if you don’t have a canner), cover the jars with water and boil the jars for 10 minutes. After canning remove the jars from the canner and allow them to cool undisturbed on the counter for 24 hours. You will hear the “pop” of the lids shortly! This means your canning efforts were successful. If any jars didn’t seal, pop them into the fridge and use up within a week.

Enjoy! My family loves this recipe, and …if you can manage to not stuff it all in your face it makes a great gift too!