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We picked an abundance of blackberries a year ago and at the time, I did not want to mess with making jelly! So I washed them, bagged them and froze them… and forgot about them. That is of course until our freezer went out and I HAD to remember them! Thankfully I “caught” the freezer going out and the berries were just beginning to thaw so I put them in the fridge, where I procrastinated about making jelly for another week. Jelly isn’t hard to make, it is just … I am messy and lazy most of the time so I just didn’t FEEL like dealing with it.
Well it was a nice soggy summer day in East Texas and not a whole lot else to do inside, so I finally “cowgirled up” and tackled my jelly making, well at least the juicing part of it!
I have a big ol’ pot (a 12 quart, I think) I dumped the berries into. I didn’t add the extra water the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving book ( page 106) calls for because my berries had already started to release their juice from when I rinsed them a year ago. For some reason when you rinse the berries they just let the juice out, so anyway, I had enough juice to keep the berries from scorching while they heated up.
I was stirring and waiting for it to get hot and decided I was not going to sit there and hand squish berries all day! I reached for my “handy dandy” Immersion Hand Blender!
It worked like a dream!! In less than two minutes I had pulverized my berries into a smoothie and got back to stirring them until they boiled for 10 minutes. Which probably wasn’t even necessary because the boiling process is to get the juice out and trust me the hand blender juiced them suckers!
After they cooked, I took the strainer that fits my big ol’ pot, sat it in a smaller pot, and lined it with a flour sack towel held on my chip clips (don’t judge my technique, it works )
And there it stayed all evening, dripping!!
It was edging on toward bed time and I wanted to get the juice put in the fridge so I could put the jelly making off until tomorrow and go to bed (procrastinating once again). Hubby & I made a team effort to get the last little bit of juice out of my berry mush. I had hubby hold the top corners of the towel while I twisted and “squoze” ( <-made up word from my hubby, sounds like froze) the remaining juice out of the berries! It worked ok, if you like red hands and arms up to your elbows for that one last cup of juice!
And looky there, who knew I could make a nice little burgundy flour sack towel too!! My job skills list just keeps growing, now I can add fabric dyer to the list!
We managed to get 22 cups of beautiful blackberry juice!
I took a bit of a break, like a week long break, before I tackled the jelly making part of this little endeavor (I told you guys I was lazy, but maybe I am just a procrastinator.)
First, I had to figure out how many times I had to multiply my recipe in my book (page 109) to match the 22 quarts of juice I had! I wanted to kick my rear for not making the kids do the math as part of a lesson but I was in a hurry to get the jelly made while I was in the mood!
I decided, I best do this in two batches of 11 cups of juice… so in goes the lemon juice, blackberry juice, & pectin whisked in…
Hubby was my sous chef this evening and premeasured all my sugar out for me…
along with tending to the jars as they boiled in my water bath canner.
Everything was set up and ready to go! The juice started boiling so I dumped in my sugar and stirred until it started to boil, I looked away for one second (to grab my phone to take pictures for this post) and the stuff about near boiled out of my big ol pot!
I was turning down the heat, blowing like a crazy person to cool the boiling liquid. Hubby came up wanting to help I just held my hand in the “Stop, I got this!” motion and kept blowing frantically at the jelly and stirring it back down! We were totally stressed out! Never been so glad when that minute timer went off and I didn’t end up with a jelly coated stove!! Good thing I decided to half the juice into two batches!
We took it off the stove and started filling jars. Hubby help rotate them out, I filled a jar then he would take it, set it aside and ready another jar for me. He is such a great help!
I reached for my phone (again) while filling the jars and over filled one past the 1/4 inch head space… yeah, I had to dip the extra back out. I remember a time that I didn’t make as many mistakes, I also remember a time I wasn’t trying to catch everything on camera, ha!
I do my jelly making much like an assembly line, first fill them all, then wipe the rims, then put on the lids, then put on all the rings…
Then placed them into my 21.5 quart water bath canner to process for 10 minutes! Just an FYI here, the canner says it only hold 9 pint jars but I got 10 pints and a half pint in that sucker so … push it to the max, it can handle it!
We repeated the process, this time with no “almost” boil over because as soon as it started boiling I cut down the heat a little and kept it stirred down. In the end we have 20 pint jars of jelly and one little half pint for tomorrows breakfast! Love hearing that “plink” of my jar sealing, it is like the jelly is applauding for a job well done!
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Blessings to you,
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