Let me just be frank: I grew up on damn good jam. Yes, my mother insisted on having Welch’s grape in the fridge, but that market spoiled me rotten. The adult kid adores sour cherry and apricot preserves, full of luscious chunks of fruit.
But Hero Forest Berry Preserves? That was THE STUFF peanut butter & jelly sandwiches were made of. Riddled with seeds, deep dark purple, a flavor of all the best berries combined. There were so, so many jars of that jam gone through, so many little paper tabs ripped, so many berry-covered lids tossed. [¡Qué horror! we were not jar savers!] Hero Forest Berry Preserves and Jif Crunchy were BFFs in my house.
It’s obvious to say then that berry jams are rather adored, preserved in a nostalgic glow in my mind. I still love them deeply, but these days, I yearn for jams that are bright from lemon, cooked speedily and sugar-kissed (not smothered). Classic back-of-the-burner jams are not dismissed, but they’re just not practical in my life. So when I returned from strawberry picking a few weeks ago, jam was on the brain. My first trip upstate, my first berry picking, I wanted to preserve strawberries before their season sadly ended. Along with an overflow of strawberries (I picked 6.5lbs), three half pints of raspberries sat in my fridge, accidentally crushed in their transport home from our CSA. One rogue clam shell of blueberries emerged from the depths of my refrigerator, and the makings for triple berry jam landed in my lap.
As usual, recipe indecision was pulling me in many directions. So I macerated – a fancy term for procrastinating! On Sunday, I weighed the berries, rounding to 2.5 lbs with the strawberries, added a cup of sugar, and faced the beast again on Tuesday. The blueberries stayed whole, bobbing in a sea of broken down raspberries and strawberries. I settled on using [yet another] recipe from Put Em Up [the quick strawberry jam is what this recipe is loosely based from].
Ideally, pectin is something I avoid, but berries are naturally low in pectin. And ripe fruit is low in pectin. These were ripe berries, so pectin I used. If you’ve never used Pomona’s pectin, it is more complex than other pectin. There are two packets, ingredients that work together, and specific instructions. Don’t get overwhelmed, it’s worth it. This is the pectin for me – it is a no-added-sugar pectin that’s friendly to low sugar jam recipes. Use a trusted recipe your first time using Pomona’s, but you otherwise won’t regret it. It gave me a perfect soft set on this jam. A bit like spreadable fruit, with whole blueberries seen here and there, tart and fresh, this is my new classic, the stuff of dreams.
Triple Berry Jam
I know, strawberry season is long gone for my fellow north-easterners. But this recipe is versatile - keep the fruit total at 2.5 lbs and you can mix whatever your heart desires. Add blackberries. Even cherries would be appropriate!
6 8-oz jars [6 cups, 3 pints]
- 1.25 lb [20 oz] strawberies
- 1 lb [16 oz] raspberries
- .25 lb [4 oz] blueberries
- 2 cup sugar, divided
- 2 tsp Pomona's Pectin
- 2 tsp calcium water [comes with pectin]
- 1 lemon, juice & pulp
- pinch salt
- Prep your berries: gently wash all berries. Pick out any blueberry stems. Slice off the green tops to strawberries. I did not hull my tender berries, but for larger, tougher strawberries, you can hull them. Place all berries, whole and uncut, into a large non-reactive pot. Add 1 cup of sugar, stir, refrigerate and let sit for 12-48 hours.
- A few days later, bring your pot out and let the fruit come to room temperature. In a small bowl, mix the remaining cup of sugar with the pectin. Place the pot on the stove, slowly increasing the heat so that it comes to a boil. Stir frequently. Once boiling, slowly pour in the sugar-pectin mixture, calcium water, lemon juice and salt.
- Stir to dissolve and return to a boil. Once fully bubbling, turn the stove off. Let the pot rest on the eye for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Ladle into sterilized jars [boil jars for 10 minutes], leaving 1/4" head-space. Release air bubbles, wipe the rims clean and add warmed lids and rings. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Let sit on counter for 24 hours to cool before storing in a cool, dark place.