When my sisters and I were going through my mom's kitchen, we found her last batch of blackberry jelly. It was a favourite growing up and my dad would go berry picking, coming home with scratches on his arms and legs so that mom could make jelly. All I remember ever seeing in the process was the big bag of cheescloth tied up with twine to one of our cabinet doors dripping luscious blackberry juice into a big bowl on the kitchen counter underneath the bag. And then, magic, there were little jars of jelly. I still remember way back when mom's jelly had a coating of paraffin wax on the top as that was the way jams and jellies used to be preserved.
This summer, my sister took one of my mom's last jars of blackberry jelly back to Philadelphia with her. A very tangible memory to be appreciated and loved.
I have been on a bit of a canning blitz this summer and printed my labels for blackberry jelly back in July, long before the blackberries growing over our fence were beginning to ripen. I was determined to make blackberry jelly this year in honour of my mom. I usually make jam - so much simpler and faster and last year when I was hoping to make blackberry jelly, time just slipped away as once school had started it's like poof, time disappears and jelly was not made.
This year, not by my choosing, there has been some extra time available and I also had two teenage boys at home to help with the picking. We used to be able to just walk down to Railway and gather ice cream buckets full of berries but those bushes were all taken out for the lovely new pathway. We ventured to the Terra Nova area and to another favourite picking spot near Garry Point and came back with some end of season berries. I added some picked from the bushes crawling over our side fence into our yard and from the local farm market and had a enought for a batch of jelly.
Blackberry jelly made from freshly picked local berries has a depth of flavour that just can't be matched with store bought jams. By using about 20% berries that weren't ripe (reddish) I didn't need to add any pectin so pretty simple - berries, natural cane sugar and lemon juice.
Blackberry jelly making...a family tradition.