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18 September 2015 @ 10:26 am
Kitsnacks: Blackberry Jam  

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. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

Herefoxherefox on September 18th, 2015 03:47 pm (UTC)
I used to be known to wade through the brambles of my parent's blackberry bushes to get all the berries I could. Mom was patient with the various scratches that I would accumulate and the fact that I'd come back with about a half cup of berries and a purple mouth.

Sadly I don't have access to any bushes these day so I'm living vicariously through you!
Geek of Weird Shit: fireygows on September 18th, 2015 07:17 pm (UTC)
FWIW, The Land of Your People does indeed have nettles. I have met them.

And while most of the vegetation there may not actively be trying to kill you, the rest of the environment is (although not as bad as Australia!), so it's all kind of a wash.
kitmizkit on September 18th, 2015 07:22 pm (UTC)
I have never met nettles in the land of my people! Huh!

Yes, but I KNOW a bear is going to try to kill me! I don't expect PLANTS to! :)
Geek of Weird Shit: statlerwaldorfgows on September 18th, 2015 07:23 pm (UTC)
And, because I thought you'd find this as interesting as I do, the Latin name for Devil's Club is O. horridus, and it apparently has a number of medicinal uses.

Why the Tlingit would consider it sacred is beyond me, though. *shudder*
kitmizkit on September 18th, 2015 07:29 pm (UTC)
I knew none of that at all! Although, IDK, I'd say there's a certain logic in considering something that will WRACK YOU WITH PAIN as sacred. "Don't touch that mofo, it's sacred, no, srsly, that shit will SACRED YOU TO DEATH if it gets the chance, worship the bastard, don't touch it."

But also the medicinal value might have something to do with it. What I want to know is how somebody figured out that the Spiky Club of Pain and Doom was good for anything...
Geek of Weird Shit: statlerwaldorfgows on September 22nd, 2015 02:33 am (UTC)
that shit will SACRED YOU TO DEATH

Deborah Blakedeborahblakehps on September 18th, 2015 11:31 pm (UTC)
They sent in someone they didn't like to find out...

Also, please feel free to send me some jam. Thank you very much.
(Deleted comment)
kitmizkit on September 19th, 2015 06:00 pm (UTC)
It keeps the foam down, so you don't lose as much to skimming it off, if you're the sort who tries to keep the jam 100% pretty with no discolored bits. :)
Carlton Maxc_maxx on September 20th, 2015 10:12 pm (UTC)
Do you hae any shirts tough enough to protect the arms, or is it hand-stung you get?

Possibly not worth having a dedicated shirt, esp. as expensive at Filsons are, but if you are try into it, CC Filson has "tin shirts" and 'shelter cloth (tenting)' shirts that NW loggers wear. I still have the remnant of one as a sleeveless vest.

Can see them at www.filson.com/, tho apparently those items are in the men's collection only [aargh!] Not to mention their site is slow as molasses...

Or you can call Gregg at Les Newmans Bend, OR 97701-4912 (541) 318-4868, and he usually gives enough % off to cover (at least domestic) shipping.

Oh! NO more tin cloth shirts [the marketers have their say], and the cheapest jacket is over $200, tho Greg might touch that price. You may not be that serious. You can ck the website if you want, if you drop-down Men's then Fabric => Tin Cloth...

Or check ebuy for a filson tin cloth shirt. I had bought mine to show off to the macho boys at work as i are not one, "like my new shirt? feel it!... It's like traditional Brit tarpaulin cloth, comes in waxed or (formerly?) non-wax water resistant. Heavier weave than a Barbour Jacket- logger stuff, lots of brambles in Washington and Oregon.
The owner of a grey catjennielf on September 21st, 2015 12:53 am (UTC)
You have gotten sooo IRISH. :)

What the hell is a "knob"??
kitmizkit on September 21st, 2015 09:24 am (UTC)
...'knob' is not an Irish measurement. It's a rule-of-thumb measurement rather than an exact one, but it's certainly not Irish specifically. :) Anyway, it's, you know. A knob. About a knob's worth. A tablespoon or so, give or take. Look at a kitchen knob and conclude how much butter that is!