Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blackberry Preserves

Preserves, made from fresh, ripe blackberries, sugar and lemon.

Blackberry Preserves

Pick your own blackberries have pretty much played out down here in South Mississippi, though you may have a little more luck if you live in the northern part of our state. Of course, you'll still find California berries in the markets everywhere on through early fall, and probably even some from Central or South America too. Local, or as local as you can get, are always going to be the best.

I'm determined to get some plants put in the ground this fall, just so I can grow some blackberries right in my own backyard, although I do think it takes a few years for them to bear fruit. Guess I'd better get busy, don't you think? I don't exactly have my Grandma's green thumb, but it sure doesn't stop me from trying. I have planted and killed more things that I care to admit, but my Grandma actually used to win those "Yard of the Month" awards because of her green thumb. Anybody else remember seeing those signs plastered around town in all the pretty yards?

Since slowly venturing into canning a few things here and there, while I'm enjoying the process, I do find that I have a bit of an identity crisis when it comes to jams and preserves. I can tell you that I am much more fond of jams and preserves than I am of jelly or butters. Jelly completely extracts out the fruit and uses only the juices. Butters are like a thick sauce of pureed fruit really.

Preserves and jams are more closely related to each other, both preserving the integrity of the fruit, one a little more than the other, and both are my favorite way of putting up fruit. By the way, blackberries, like figs, don't continue to ripen once they're picked, so make sure that you use ripe berries, although, if you manage to get a portion of underripe berries mixed in with them, those are higher in natural pectin and well help the syrup set.

I followed the basics of a Ball's recipe, which can be used with both blackberries and raspberries, making some adjustments in the preparation of the berries along with the addition of lemon. I weighed the berries on a kitchen scale for 2 pounds, but apparently forgot to measure out in cups the amount of berries for y'all. If I had to venture a guess in my memory banks, I'd say it was around 8 cups of berries, although berries do vary in size according to species, so you're really better off weighing them to be honest.

In my canning research, I have seen sources across the net that suggest simply washing jars in hot soapy water is sufficient when canning. Personally, I've only ventured into fairly small batch canning, so I feel better sterilizing them in the boiling water I'm preparing for canning with anyway.

If you're interested in moving slowly into canning like me, you'll probably want a basic water bath canning set. While it isn't completely necessary, as you can make due with other things you may already have, it sure makes it easier to have the right tools. I also recommend a good book such as Ball's Blue Book Guide to Preserving, although the recipes in their newer editions, are becoming a lot more about promoting all of the convenience products they now sell, than about making basic canning recipes. Fortunately, there are a multitude of other resources available today besides Ball.

As always, before proceeding with any recipe, I suggest you consult a professional canning resource for complete details on how to safely can foods, from start to finish, to make them pantry stable.

Here's what I did.
If you think this sounds yummy, I'd sure it if you'd click to pin it, tweet it, stumble it, or share it on Facebook to help spread the word - thanks!


Recipe: Blackberry Preserves

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 40 min |Cook time: 40 min | Yield: About 4 half pints

  • 2 pounds of ripe blackberries
  • 4 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

Sterilize jars and lids. Prepare a hot water bath. Wash and sort though berries, picking off any stems or leaves and removing any that are not firm and fresh. Add half of the berries to a large pot and add half the sugar. Very lightly crush with a potato masher, top with remaining berries and sugar, toss and lightly crush again. Add the lemon zest and juice, stir and let rest for 30 minutes.

Place pot over medium heat, and bring slowly to a boil, stirring until all of the sugar has dissolved. Increase heat and cook quickly until berries reach the jelling point at about 220-221 degrees F on a thermometer, roughly 30 to 40 minutes. Skim off any accumulated foam from the top and ladle into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Add lids and rings and process for 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

Cook's Notes: Jelling time is only a rough estimate; it may take longer to reach jelling point. I am not a professional canning expert. Please consult a professional canning resource for details on water bath canning before attempting to home can. Pectin may be used, however follow the guidelines in the package as all brands vary. May substitute raspberries.

If you prefer a more jam-like texture, crush the berries more thoroughly before cooking. Wild blackberries will be more seedy than those commercially raised. To make a seedless jam, you'll need to run the berries through a food mill to remove seeds, however you will likely need to add pectin. Consult a canning resource for how to make blackberry jelly if you prefer to strain.


Requires Adobe Reader - download it free!
©Deep South Dish
Are you on Facebook? If you haven't already, come and join the party! We have a lot of fun & there's always room for one more at the table.
Check These Recipes Out Too!

Icebox Bread and Butter Pickles
Chunky Fig Jam
Watermelon Rind Pickles

Posted by on July 26, 2012
Images and Full Post Content including Recipe ©Deep South Dish. Pinning and sharing links is welcomed and encouraged, but please do not repost or republish elsewhere such as other blogs, websites, or forums without explicit prior permission. All rights reserved.

Material Disclosure: Unless otherwise noted, you should assume that post links to the providers of goods and services mentioned, establish an affiliate relationship and/or other material connection and that I may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You are never under any obligation to purchase anything when using my recipes and you should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Bookmark and Share


  1. Mary your blackberry preserves look great. I love canning and the more you do the nore addicted you will become. I am wanting to start on a batch of strawberry, but just haven't had the time yet. It's my little guys favorite. Great Job!

    1. Thanks Tina!! And thanks so much for stopping by - so nice to see you! We're both busy bees these days aren't we - remember when lol...??? Anyway, yeah blackberry and strawberry are my top two favorites.

      I'm enjoying the canning - in small batches at least. Who knows... maybe I'll move into pressure canning next year?! Stranger things have happened!

  2. We live in Crystal Springs and they still do the yard of the month.

    Be sure to get the thornless black berry plants. It really won't take but a year or so and you'll be able to get berries.

    1. Thanks - I didn't realize the thornless varieties would fruit quicker. Good to know!

    2. I planted a pair of the thornless blackberry bushes and on the second summer I had fruit. Very large, plump fruit I might add. They had a good flavor, but was not quite as sweet as the regular wild blackberries around my acreage.

    3. Mary, I planted a pair of the thornless blackberry bushes and in the second summer, I had fruit. Very large, plump fruit I might add. They have a great full flavor but are not quite as sweet as the wild variety surrounding my acreage. I harvest several 5 gal buckets each year and I will mix the larger thornless type in with the wild berries just to mix things up. Happy canning!

    4. Thanks so much JT! I still haven't planted - forgot to get them in time so hopefully I'll get some vines down this winter! I need to figure out the best variety for my area here along the Gulf Coast.

  3. Wow no pectin in recipe. I have only done strawberry and cheery but always use pectin. This looks good.

    1. I followed a Ball recipe that didn't require pectin, but of course, you can absolutely use pectin! You'll need to follow the directions on the pectin package though because there will need to be some adjustments in the sugar and amount of berries too.

  4. Oh, to have enough blackberries to can. Those look so good.

  5. after straining off the seeds, I had a little more than three half pints and I really thought it was too sweet. Next time, I will add less sugar.

    1. Thanks for the input! As I mentioned, I am no canning expert by any stretch of the imagination, and I don't strain my berries, but I'm guessing that straining and reducing the overall output, would make it more concentrated and sweeter. I think the sugar to fruit ratio here is pretty average for preserves. With straining it is really more of a jelly I suppose.

      I consulted my ball book & for 8 half pints of blackberry jelly, you would need to first make 2 quarts of blackberry juice - made by stewing down the berries with a little water then straining out pulp and seeds. I imagine that would take quite a lot of blackberries! To that you'd add in 7-1/2 cups of sugar and 2 pouches of liquid pectin. Hope that helps for the next time and thanks again for commenting!

  6. I made this and it turned out great! I did add about 1/2 Tbsp.of Chambord (raspberry flavored liquor) to a couple of the half pint jars that I will give as gifts. I didn't have any blackberry liquor, but imagine that would be good, too. Any way to soften the seeds?.

    1. Oh wow, that sure sounds good! As far as the seeds, not that I am aware of although different varieties may be softer than others.

  7. I am unable to find good blackberry preserves today. I am in my 70's and back when I was young they were wonderful and packed full with berries. Also, the seeds are where the benefits are and the body today needs those benefits more than ever. Wish someone make then with lots of berries and keep the seeds!

    1. Those days may be long gone unfortunately! Making them at home is a good option though & they are always treasured long after the berries have gone away.

  8. I've already picked over 25 quarts of wild blackberries and will be making preserves real soon, since the raspberries are also getting ready to ripen here in upstate New much fruit and not enough time to do it all and go to work too!!!

  9. so glad to find this web site great receipes as my mother made.I really enjoyed the Southern saying bottom of web site .Keep coming with the great receipes


Thanks for taking the time to comment - I love hearing from readers and I read every single comment and try to respond to them right here on the site, so stop back by!

From time to time, anonymous restrictions and/or comment moderation may be activated due to comment spam. I also reserve the right to edit, delete or otherwise exercise total editorial discretion over any comments left on this blog.

Related Posts with Thumbnails