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July 14, 2009


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My nephew came to watch and help me make blackberry jelly one day. Things were going good until it came time to add the sugar. I had used the 1 cup measurer earlier in the day. I didn't look but took the one off the bottom which was really the 3/4 cup. So I wound up being 1 1/2 cups short of sugar. I cooked and cooked it and it wouldn't thicken up. We finally put it in jars and called it blackberry syrup! It was good on pancakes, ice cream or oatmeal.

Thank you. Mine turned out pefect I just wished it would of made more I used 6 cups of juice and 6 cups of sugar and only had 2 pints of jelly with I little left for us to eat now. But it taste great . This was my first time making anything like this will be making more even though its not good on my hips. It will b hard not to eat the whole thing.

It was nice to find your site. I've always canned, learned that from my Mom. She and I always did it together, until she passed away. I do so miss her. My job when I was young, was to wash all of her jar's in a big tub outside. I didn't enjoy any of that but did so enjoy all of the canning she put up for our family. Have any of you heard of cocoa fried pies? We weren't rich at all and Mom would make just plain old dry cocoa with sugar added to make it sweet, roll out some biscuit dough, take a saucer, lay it on the dough, cut around it, putting 2 ,or 3 T. of cocoa mixture(dry)on it, fold it over, using a fork to mash around the half moon edge of the pie, so none of the cocoa would come out while frying in lard. She would fry it to a golden brown on both sides. It was a pretty tasty treat when you wanted something sweet. I could tell you all some really neat stuff.

When you made your first blackberry jam the old fashion way, should have put some juice back in the pot and set it aside. It would have melted it all back to liquid, possibly. I think a person would want to warm what- ever kind of juice you would use, in order to bring the hardened jam back to more of a liquid form. I would use apple or pear juice, since they have a rather mild taste to them. You could also have made a hard candy with your jam you cooked to long. It's a shame you did away with it. Your family might have liked it as a hard blackberry candy. Think about that next time.

Your site is great!!!

For laughs: I shared the discussion about jelly getting too hard with my Mom. Her response: "yep, Nanny told me to cook until it turns clear, so I cooked and cooked and cooked and it still wasn't clear. Then I stuck my spoon in to stir, and couldn't get it out. Pan, spoon, and would-be jelly all went out in the trash."
Thanks for the heads-up! I watched very carefully and managed to avoid the brick (hoping all the while that if I did wind up with bricks, I'd know it in time to make hard candies instead of jelly)


Thank you for the comment! I'm sure you could freeze the jam/jelly-but I never have. After opening a jar of jelly-it should last several weeks stored inside your refrigerator.

Blind Pig The Acorn

Celebrating and Preserving the

Culture of Appalachia


How long after opening jar will the blackberry jam last & can you freeze it?

I remember my mama would pour a little dab of jelly on a saucer and let it set to check the consistency

Awesome Tipper! I will have to try the old fashioned way when my brand new berry plants produce enough.

Thank you!! I hope the jelly turns out perfect : )

Blind Pig The Acorn

Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk

All at www.blindpigandtheacorn.com


I feel "at home" again after reading your site and comments from other readers. Thanks also for making me feel not so condemned for using the open kettle method for jelly. I am glad to find out I can use an old , clean pillow case for a jelly bag.

oh, and nope, never berry jelly the old fashioned way, but apples and crabapples, yes, because they have plenty of natural pectin.

so i wasn't scared to try!

you are SO right--there is nothing quite like that little poink sound!! (i just jammed up a buncha peaches and black raspberries.)

blackberries are next--how does crabapple/blackberry jelly sound? or are you a purist?

Things like this are why I lived in the country, or at least not in so much of a city. To get enough blackberries (or any berry) to do such a thing would cost a FORTUNE.

I've never canned anything. My mother hated cooking and what little canning she did, she did not include me. I think she wanted to get it over with as fast as she could and not teach me. I've never had a real opportunity. Maybe in another life.

hey there, just a suggestion for getting your berry jams and jellies to gel without the pection...for strawberry, blackberry and raspberry you can squeeze a lemon and put the juice in, then wrap up all the seeds and throw them in while you're boiling the fruit. i found some teabags here for packing your own loose leaf tea, and that works perfect for the seeds, faster than cutting and tying up muslin or cheesecloth. the seeds are full of pectin. apple seeds work too but lemon seeds are easier to get out. try one big lemon for two pints of fruit, and about 3/4:1 sugar to fruit (so 3c sugar to 4c fruit).
i never use pectin (except for making oregon grape holly jelly), and 20-30 minutes of boiling that recipe above (2pts fruit, 3c sugar, one lemon plus seeds) gives me wonderful jam every time. i always flip the jars, have never processed fruit preserves, and works a charm every time!

(for a special treat add a few tablespoons of brandy into the jam mixture right before you ladle into the jars...it's heavenly with fresh biscuits and creamy goat cheese!)

I use the pectin as well and also I use the seal method you do. I have never had a problem with my jam or the seals yet. I suppose I should water bath it just in case but it still works for us as well.

The blackberries won't be ready in the NW for another month but I can't wait to try the old way. Thanks for sharing and I will be referring back to make it "right"

I grew-up watching, and helping, my mom and grandma can jelly, but I don't like to can so I'm strictly a freezer jam kind of girl. You almost make me want to do it again, but not quite...

I tried to make peach jam the first year I moved here and it was a flop. It was great on ice cream, though. My grandma and granny always melted parafin and put on the top of the jelly they made. Do people do that any more????

Hi Tipper, I just got back from vacation. My mom and grandma used to do it without sure jel, they'd cook it in those big aluminum pans. I use sure jel and I like blackberry jam better than jelly. It just tastes better to me. I also make grape jelly and I love it. I always turn my jars upside down and have never had any problem with it. I just picked my first quart of berries on Monday just as we were leaving on vacation.

Mom used to make rasberry jam the old fashioned way. She said all of that sugar is what made it set up. It was yummy!!!

I'm new to jelly making, made a batch of new style red plum jelly a few years ago that was so good I tried it again this year. Now the first batch I made with pectin and the batch today I tried the old fashioned way. The jelly is prettier colored from the open kettle one, I will have to see if it jells. I'm at 5000 feet and it took forever, was afraid to cook too hot or I'd destroy the pectin.
I've looked up recipes and wasn't sure I didn't have to process the open kettle jelly in the hot water bath also. Didn't! Lids are popping, tomorrow I will know if it jelled and tastes any better.

I think all the recipes have way too much sugar. I made Crabapple jelly the old way, years ago, it turns out a lovely pink color. Last year I tried it again, and followed some recipe I found in a cookbook. It was way too sweet, and I will cut back half or more if I use it again. Crabapple jelly gets tough, too. You have to be real careful not to boil it too long.

Tipper!! I love the pictures you took of making the jelly. I love the old tried and true ways of many things, but I don't think I'll be getting out my broom to make jelly anytime soon!! I will leave it to you and live vicariously through you!!! :) I would probably go the sure jell way for sure!! Great article! Makes me think about my momma making all kinds of wonderful jellies! Daddy loved gooseberry!

I haven't made blackberry jelly but I did make fig/strawberry preserves last week. I did the water bath canning but decided I wouldn't do that any more. If you have the jars and lids really hot when you but the boiling liquid in there's no reason that wouldn't be ok for a long time! I remember that my mother didn't water bath them - she did exactly like what you call the "old time" method! blessings, marlene

I still haven't tried blackberry jelly. I think our blackberries are about gone now. My father-in-law planted blackberries in memory of my Dad. He used to bring them blackberries and they would always repay him by making him a blackberry cobbler.

There's a lot to be said for trusting your judgment. This looks so very delicious. I want some!

Tipper: What a neat post, That is my favorite jelly also. My daughter made it for me after I picked the berries. Ours are just turning red right now.

No, I have never made blackberry jelly the old fashion way. I have made jelly and jam using Sure Jel, but I have don't that in many years.

My grandmother made raspberry jelly the old fashion way. Boy, was that good stuff!!

Yum! Tipper, i love blackberries too! See ya at the dance 2night!

Tipper, I make all my jam and jelly with sure jell. It is easier, takes less sugar, and I think it holds its flavor better----I thinks that's because the berries are not cooked so long.

I agree with Warren, I'm afraid is you mess with the sugar content it will alter the consistency and this type of jelly is too fragile!

I always used a fork to test for doneness of jelly/jam cooked without pectin. Dip the clean fork in the boiling mixture and lift it out. When the jelly closes the tines on the fork then it is done, and will set properly.
If it all runs off the fork then it is not yet thick enough to set so cook it a little longer.

Your Blackberry Jelly, last year, was the best I've ever tasted. Whatever you did-----was perfect!
In fact I's love to have another jar, hint-hint!

The Deerhunter told me the signs are right now for pickling so I went to the market today for cucumbers. They go in the crock today for 14 day pickles.

Love ya!

I believe that blackberries are probably among God's favorite gifts to us. Is there another treat like blackberry jelly or blackberry cobbler?

As kids, we picked blackberries every year, out in the counytrysides around Kingsport. Our mouths would water just thinking about our Momma's pies and cobblers.

We three brothers usually played around and caught junebugs or jumped in the creek, but we helped our sisters, too.

I was back in Kingsport recently and tried to pick blackberries but they were about a week away yet and I only got a few handfuls.

I have a postcard ... I don't remember how I came into it. I don't think I know the folks. It's from 1913 and it was sent by a woman living at the time in Osgood, Indiana to her brother in Illinois. It's blackberry time in Indiana when she writes.

As in the letters you share with us, I always find a certain poignancy in old hand-written letters and I love to read them. Her letter reads:

Osgood, Indiana July 14, 1913

Dear Brother,

Why don't you write. Just wait until you get where I can get a holt of you. Come home and help pick blacberries.


Tipper, we're fixing to pick and we'll make jelly and put some berries up, too.

Thanks for a wonderful blackberry article. We'll lean on your experiences.

Thank you for explaining how to make blackberry jelly without the "store-bought" stuff! I've wanted to learn how for awhile- I knew there must be a way, but wasn't sure how to go about it!
That reminds me- we have berries on the vines and I should check on them instead of being on this computer! Storms are on the way today!

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