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Lots of wild blackberries

It's been a banner year on my farm. I just picked about 8 cups of perfectly ripe wild blackberries. Now I need to do something with them before they spoil. I am gluten free so things like cobblers and such are out for me. I'm thinking jam and brandy but I lack equipment and experience. I'll head to the store if the recipe sounds yummy enough. Years ago, I let a professional jam maker harvest my crop of berries and she made Wild Blackberry Jam with Brandy. She gave me a bunch of jars in exchange for the berries and it was yummy. She also sold out quickly.I was thinking of making that if you can come up with a way to sterilize the jars and avoid botulism without investing in a canning kit. I've got a lot more berries coming along which will be ripening later so I really could use some help with enjoying and preserving the riches here.

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  1. you can absolutely make any blackberry jam/preserves without a pressure canner or exotic equipment. here's the official USDA guide - http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/pub... you want GUIDE 7.

    It's not hard to do.

    You could also freeze them, but if you decide to make the blackberry jam with brandy, would you mind posting the recipe? it sounds DIVINE!!!!


    1 Reply
    1. re: jiffypop

      One jam recipe I read simply said add a couple of tablespoons of brandy to the cooking berries in the last five minutes of cooking.

    2. It is so easy to make jam. You don't have to worry. Just boil the jars and simmer the berries. So easy. Google a ton of recipes.

      1. Great basis for a sauce with game - particularly venison.

        1. I just made blackberry ice cream using the following recipe, adding chocolate chips and 1 Tbs. raspberry vodka. I would have used Chambord but couldn't find it. Keep in mind the recipe makes more like 5 c. so make sure your ice cream maker can handle it.


          1. freeze and make smoothies year round!

            1. It seems like you want preserve-type recipes, but I once had a Blackberry and Earl Grey Tea sorbet that I still think of and sigh. This recipe might make something like it (it has fresh ginger in it too though, which might make it better or worse, I'm not sure): http://www.food.com/recipe/blackberry...

              3 Replies
              1. re: ninrn

                I've eaten blackberry sorbet at a restaurant - a winner of a dessert.

                1. re: ninrn

                  There are going to be a lot of blackberries before this crop is done. I'll try this sorbet. Thanks. I like all the ingredients and love a good sorbet. I also am keeping every ingredient organic which would be hard for me to find to buy.

                  1. re: ninrn

                    That sounds like an amazing pairing.

                  2. You can make a wonderful gluten free crisp with almond flour, low carb too, if you wish.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: magiesmom

                      Okay -- lots of almond flour for sale around here (Peterborough, NH). How would I make the crisp part? Guidance would be greatly appreciated.

                      1. re: susanl143

                        This is an example. If you have some oats that you are sure are gluten free you can use them instead of 1/3 of the almond flour.
                        Personally I like it with coconut oil but butter is fine too.

                        1. re: magiesmom

                          This recipe looks really easy. I hadn't a clue how to go about making the crisp topping so I am really grateful that you sent it. I've got some coconut oil I bought at Costco and have been wondering how to use it. This will make a start on the large jar. Thank you. I'm getting really excited about how yummy this great berry harvest is going to be.

                          1. re: susanl143

                            Adding some dried coconut or toasted nuts to the topping is good too.'

                    2. Philadelphia style ice cream!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Chowrin

                        Philadelphia style ice cream!

                        Not familiar with this term. Please 'splain.

                        1. re: al b. darned

                          It's eggless, so not a custard.

                          Milk and cream and sugar, and blackberries!

                      2. Hi susan143-

                        You don't need a canning kit.

                        We just made 12 jars of "preserves" using a few kilos of black grapes from France. I say preserves, as I cook and add the skins of the grape, rather than throwing them out. More textural that way, and the taste with a dash of lemon in the mix is similar to your American Black berry.

                        You only need a couple of pots, perhaps one pan, and a few kitchen tools:

                        1. 1 Pot for cooking the washed and stemmed berries, adding sugar, and finally Pectin. You can cook the berries and mash them while cooking, or leave them whole if they are not too big. Our ratio of sugar to fruit is .5 sugar to 1.00 fruit, as we like it tart but not candy sweet. 1.20 hour.min cooking time, boil first, then down to simmer on low, stirring constantly.

                        Some breadmaking machines like Zojirushi have a jam program, which will heat and stir for you. But you will get more out of a pot in quantity.

                        2. 1 large pot for sterilizing jars and lids, which in the North America are currently $ 5.69 USD for 12 8 ounce Barr jars at Target.com online as a close out ( I just checked for you ). You can of course use larger jars, but 8 ounce is a little more manageable.

                        It is simple: After you fill each clean jar to 1/4 inch from the top, you add the lid and lid ring on to seal.

                        You then place each filled jar carefully in boiling water in the large pot for 10 minutes, submerged. A gentle boil is best, not a rolling boil. You can use salad tongs or spaghetti tongs carefully, if you don't have a jar lifter.

                        After 10 minutes, remove them the same way, and allow to cool for a few hours. You may hear an audible pop of the lid, which is completely normal. As the jar cools, the lid will be sucked back down by the cooling pressure, sealing your product clean, and sterilized.

                        In many decades of Summer fruit, we have never used a jar rack, or canning equipment. Preserves, sliced fruit, pickles, vegetables, or jelly will last well over a year unopened, and one month + when opened and refrigerated.

                        We use an inexpensive jar lifter, a colander, magnetic jar lid lifter, and a fine strainer and beech pestle, but none of that is a requirement. Certainly not for Black berries.

                        These grapes were so delicious that all you see left in the photo are now gone. Fortunately, I made the preserves before our kids come over this weekend. We have gifts of preserves for them.

                        I hope this is helpful.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: SWISSAIRE

                          This was wonderfully helpful. Thank you. I've put the berries in the fridge for tonight-- went out for a martini rather than making jam tonight -- but tomorrow, I'll be jamming. Day after tomorrow, I'll start the blackberry brandy. The local store wanted $90 for the canning kit so I passed and bought pretty much what you recommended for far less money. The jars cost me four bucks more than Target but I did get to skip the forty mile round trip to the nearest Target which is worth something.

                          1. re: susanl143

                            Cool Susan !

                            You are resourceful, and just as wise with your fuel expenditures.

                            Next Martini, just think of me !



                            1. re: SWISSAIRE

                              I was chatting with a friend while drinking our martinis. She has a ton of wild blueberries. Mine are either out of reach or gone to the birds. She agreed to pick four cups of the wild ones at her house and I will make two batches of wild blueberry Eau d' Vie. Our Christmas gifts will be very popular this year, I suspect. I'm also set to try a recipe for wild blackberry spiced brandy I saw on-line. My next step is to find a decent brandy to use for making it. I think my really fine cognac would be wasted in this recipe but I want something better than rotgut.

                              1. re: susanl143

                                Evening Susan -

                                Christmas gifts of preserves, marmalade, or jelly made from Summer fruit are always appreciated. Our quiet Sunday mornings are best with homemade braided Zopf bread, and homemade preserves from the Summer. ( in fact I'm making the yeast ferment tonight for the mornings breadmaking now ).

                                Here we have about 2 months (mid-July to mid-September) to find and preserve fruit or vegetables for the coming Winter. It is not because we can't buy those items at our local Migros or Co-op stores in Winter. It is because we value the tradition and recipes using our own source of fresh fruit, passed on by being resourceful when we subsisted on such products to get through the snow and ice months.

                                Regarding mixed spirits you mention, the sky is the limit regarding experimentation with fruit. Damson Gin of the Mrs. Marple series is simple enough to make, all the way through to Black berry brandy you mention, and on up to Cherry Kirsch. Good filtration and air-tight storage bottles be your key to produce a good supply of fruit spirits, also to share and enjoy sipping by the fire, or to offer as prized gifts at Christmas.

                                It does not have to be Cognac from France, which although excellent, will become adulterated with the addition of fruit. A good but inexpensive brandy from any vendor will do nicely matched with Summer fruit. You have some excellent resources and recipes here in the Spirits section of Chowhound.

                                Let us know how you fruit preserves develop !

                                1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                  Here in New Hampshire the winters are long indeed. Summer fruit preserved is precious and cheering. My little farm is marked in the history books as being on some of the most fertile land in New England. I keep it clear of anything not organic, and it was pristine land before I moved here, at least since the days of the sheep bubble in the early 1800s. Old stone walls tell me the land was used for the sheep back then.

                                  Yes, I can buy good liquors or jams but frankly find the commercial blackberry brandy far too sweet and the flavor off. I long for the healthful tonic I know it can be but isn't. I do have a treasure in my basement for making the eau d' vie, bought back from Mexico years ago, of 200 proof neutral spirits. I'll soak the wild fruit in some of it and then thin to a more reasonable proof. I will head to the spirits board as I progress.

                                  The jam hasn't been made yet. The berries are refrigerated and hopefully will be turned into good jam tomorrow. I figure the worst that is likely to happen would be a lot of wild blackberry syrup. I can live with that if my jam doesn't turn out as I hope. I will definitely report back on how it comes out. I am so grateful for the help and suggestions I've been given here.

                                  Your jam and loaves are beautiful.

                            2. re: susanl143

                              I was looking up info about canning tonight (there are a lot of wild blackberries ripening in the park near me...) and found this starter kit--only $10 (plus shipping).

                          2. A batch or Blackberry Wine, Blackberry Liqueur or Blackberry Shrub would be a great way to use a bunch of Blackberries. (can you tell I just got off work?!)

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: chefj

                              The wife and I will be right over.

                              1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                Hope you some good Cocktail Ideas, I'm thirsty.
                                Actually i just opened a Kloster Andechs Doppelbock. I feel a bit calmer already.

                                1. re: chefj

                                  5 more and you won't feel anything.

                            2. I just picked blackberries from our alley and strawberries from our garden and made freezer jam (berries, pectin, sugar): 30 minutes start to finish, no equipment.

                              Last week I picked blackberries, pureed, strained, and added a little simple syrup. I froze it in batches. We add it to seltzer or cocktails.

                              At any rate, you don't have to decide now. Freeze them in a single layer, bag them, and figure it out later.

                              1. Definitely freeze flat on a sheet tray and then xsfer to a ziplock.

                                This chia jam is stupid easy with minimal sweetner- with the blackberries maybe use agave instead of maple syrup. Takes about 20min, zero equiptment but the jars. Keep in the freezer. Buy the chia seeds at a health food store from bulk bins for the best price or if you're near trader joes they sell them at a great price- adds protein and fiber and acts as a natural thickener.

                                And/or make blackberry vodka/gin/brandy, really easy- no special equiptment and lasts for almost ever

                                1. Jam making is not too hard - for a first time jam maker I would recommend a thermometer, though, to take out some of the guess work.

                                  Botulism is *not* generally a problem with jam - it's acidic enough that this isn't an issue (which is why you don't need a pressure canner). If jam goes off it tends to go mouldy. If you're making jam for room temperature storage you need a recipe that is at least 2/3 sugar by weight - lower sugar recipes need to be refrigerated.

                                  A canning kit is probably not necessary. You need a large pot for the boiling, and I would recommend a thermometer (as above) and a jar lifter, because lifting boiling hot jars full of jam out of a pot of boiling water is kind of tricky. You can also look up freezer jam recipes, which are quite easy.

                                  For other things - how about homemade blackberry liqueur?

                                  1. Definitely freeze as many as you can. There is nothing more heartening in the depths of February, when it seems that summer will never come, than the taste of berries. They can be added into a gluten free frangipane straight from the freezer. Or made into a compote.

                                    1. Many, many thanks for your great suggestions. I didn't get to making jam with this first batch of berries but I did try Maglesmom's berry crisp using almond flour instead of wheat flour. I was surprised at how much of a normal but delicious taste and texture it had. I did add some oat meal and also a bit of ginger liquor to the topping. I also sprinkled a little maple sugar on it before sticking it in the oven. I made two pans -- one for a pot luck where it was very well received and the other for this household. The two crisps didn't use all my previously picked berries. The rest went into a large jar with Paul Masson Brandy. It looks, tastes, and smells yummy so far. I didn't add any sugar or other sweetener. I'll add that later if it tastes like it needs it but I doubt it will. My next blackberry brandy jar will be a spiced version.