Foraging for berries and other wild fruits have been mankind’s source of sustenance for thousands of years. Wild berries such as strawberries, blackberries, cloudberries, blueberries, elderberries, and gooseberries, among others are a natural gift from nature. Most often, these berries are just washed and enjoyed as they are or they can be cooked and preserved for a long time.
Wild blackberry jam is one of the most sustainable ways to preserve the flavors and juice of wild blackberries. It is a delight to be used for desserts and even savory dishes. So, enjoy making wild blackberry jams to eat with your family or share with loved ones.
Wild Blackberry Jam Trivia
- Blackberry is the Official State Fruit of Alabama and Kentucky. They are native to North and South America, Asia, and Europe.
- It was believed that Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Luther Burbank introduced the famous Himalayan Blackberries which thrive in Seattle.
- Wild blackberries are full of nutrients and minerals that are great for nourishing the body. Wild blackberries are full of Vitamin C, K, Manganese, and Fiber. Vitamin C helps boost the immune system and is essential in the formation of collagen, blood vessels, and other connective tissues.
Wild Blackberry Jam Buying Guide
Wild blackberry jam is available in the condiments and jellies section of grocery stores and supermarkets. You can purchase either the commercially packed preserves or those produced by artisan families. It’s best to buy wild blackberry jam during the wild blackberry season to celebrate the blueberries’ prime flavors. They also have an assortment such as with pectin, no pectin, all-natural, and low sugar. You can choose which one is best for your taste and preference.
Wild Blackberry Jam Production & Farming in Texas
The cultivated blackberry is one of the most essential brambles in Texas alongside raspberries, loganberries, and boysenberries. They thrive in Texas, surviving and tolerating the scorching summer temperatures of the region. Blackberries are best planted in sandy soils which have good drainage and a pH of 4.5-7.5.
Blackberry varieties growing in Texas include Thorny, Primocane Bearing, and thornless. thorny varieties are the most commonly planted, bearing more produces than other blackberry varieties. Texas A&M University released “Brazos” in 1959 and has been the standard Texas Thorny Blackberry for over 35 years.
Other blackberry varieties released by Texas A&M University in 1977 include Rosborough and Womack. Rosborough is planted in the East and South-Central Texas, producing higher yields and sweeter berries. Meanwhile, Womack is cultivated in South Central Texas and grows well on black land clay soils.
Preservatives and Chemicals
Jams, jellies, and preserves are made with four basic ingredients: fruit, pectin, acid, and sugar.
Fruit is the base for any jams, jellies, or preserves. It is essential to use firm and ripe fruit for jams as over-ripe fruits will result in a liquidy set. Meanwhile, an under-ripe fruit will have fewer juices and under-developed flavors. Taste the fruits first before using them on your jam.
Pectin is essential to achieve the gel-like consistency of the jam. In simpler terms, pectin is necessary to set the jam. It is important to know the difference between pectin and gelatin. Pectin is a natural starchy substance usually found in fruits while gelatin is derived from animals. Certain types of fruits have different pectin levels. Strawberries, blueberries, and peaches are low in pectin meanwhile blackberries, currants, cranberries, and eastern concord grapes have a high pectin content.
Sugar is another essential ingredient in jams, jellies, and preserves. While people think sugar is just a sweetener, it is much more than that. Sugar is essential in retaining the shape and texture of the fruit. In the case of low-sugar jams, they have a shorter shelf-life because of their consistency. Low-sugar jams should also be paired with low-sugar pectin to successfully achieve the texture. Otherwise, the unsuccessful chemical reaction would result in a less desirable texture.
Citric acid, malic acid, and tartaric acid are commonly used in jams and jellies. Acids are essential to bind and form the pectin. Most people can easily purchase powdered forms of acid, but the acid of lemon juice or other citrus fruits would suffice.
Safely canning jams, jellies, and preserves are essential to maintain their flavors and lengthen their shelf-life. The Boiling Water Method for Wild Blackberry Jam is one of the most reliable. To do this, prepare the canning jars filled with food and completely submerge them in boiling water at 212°F.
Certain measures should be done before doing the boiling water method. Check the cans to ensure they are safe for food packaging and consumption. Look for cracks, chipped edges, and even tiny scratches. Discard the jars if you can find any of these inconsistencies. This is an essential step since any small cracks or chips can be triggered by heat during the boiling process.
Also check the rubber lid to ensure that there are no mold growths since any mold could spoil an entire glass. Never use the metal covers if there are patches or specks of rust since it can also contaminate the wild blackberry jam, making it unsafe for consumption.
Enjoying Wild Blackberry Jam
Like any other jam, wild blackberry jam can be simply eaten as a spread for toasted, buttered bread, pancakes, waffles, and crepes. It’s also great as a flavor addition to the classic grilled cheese sandwiches. Wild blackberry jam can be an accompaniment for cheese platters, charcuterie boards, and grazing tables.
Properly storing either commercially-produced or homemade wild blackberry jam will determine how long you can keep the flavor quality and shelf-life. All unopened artisan-made jams should be stored in a cool, dark place, and should be consumed within a year. although, you can consume it for a maximum of three to six months to enjoy the flavors as time will modify the flavors, colors, and textures of the jam.
Once opened, always refrigerate the wild blackberry jam and consume it within two to three weeks since the jams will deteriorate faster once opened and exposed to varying temperatures.
Always check for signs of spoilage before eating the jam. Those with mold or yeast growth in the lids or the glass wall and having fermented or yeasty odors should be immediately discarded.
OLD-FASHIONED WILD BLACKBERRY JAM
1.2 kg wild blackberries
800 g granulated sugar
juice from 1/2 lemon
- Rinse the blackberries, then add them to a large pan together with the sugar and the lemon juice.
- Leave to simmer on a low to medium heat until the liquid released is nearly absorbed, and the jam is thick enough to be poured into jars, depending on the heat that could take up to 2 hours.
- The jam will thicken further when it cools down.
- Rinse the jars, and place them in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) for 10 minutes to sterilize.
- Pour the hot jam into the hot jars, making sure you do not fill the jars to the brim, but there is about half an inch of headspace.
- Tighten the lids well, then place the jars upside down and leave to cool completely.
- If the fourth jar is not quite full, it can be stored in the fridge and consumed within 3-4 weeks.
- Otherwise, the jars can be stored in a cool place, and the jam should last for 1-2 years.